I finally managed to GM my first DW game last Friday night, and I think I’m in love!

I finally managed to GM my first DW game last Friday night, and I think I’m in love!

I finally managed to GM my first DW game last Friday night, and I think I’m in love! It’s definitely my preferred way to GM a game.

One of my players felt like she couldn’t flesh out her character’s personality very well, though. Of course this can be handled in the fiction, but she didn’t feel pushed to do so by the mechanics at all.

Part of it might be that recently we’ve played games like Lady Blackbird, a mashup of FATE and FU, and In A Wicked Age. In these her characters had Keys and Aspects and Best Interests, which she felt gave her characters goals and personalities that she doesn’t get from Bonds and Alignment in DW.

How can I add these to the game without messing things up too much? How would you handle this?

13 thoughts on “I finally managed to GM my first DW game last Friday night, and I think I’m in love!”

  1. What class is she playing? I think all the classes have some of the things she might be looking for but I think the Paladin and the Barbarian are especially good at providing hooks for a strong character personality and motivations.

    Keys and Aspects and Best Interests are all a bit different in play.

    Is it the frequency of mechanical rewards for playing her character a certain way that she is missing? (Keys/Aspects)

    If there are alignment behaviors she finds inspiring (some are very like Keys) maybe you could play around with the XP progression and allow multiple XP per session for the existing alignment triggers.

  2. Feel free to make custom mini-statements that reward players for acting in accordance with. I use Foibles, and make them short punchy statements about the character. These can either supplement or support alignments.

    “Slavery is evil, I shall not abide it in any form”

    “I must find out what happened to my XXXXX”

    “My ties to the merchant guild are still strong”

    Every time one of the player’s foibles complicate their lives, You can give them a token they can use to add +1 to a roll, or let them mark xp.

  3. have you tried asking her A LOT of questions about her personality and then acting according to the answers when building the world?

    I’ll rephrase: asking questions at the start of a game means reaching an accord between everyone in the group about what this game will be about. If deep personality is a big deal to her, then questions, answers and fronts should be centered around this.

    Or am I talking bullshit??

  4. Matthew Gagan She is playing a nuetral elf druid. I don’t think it’s so much the frequency of mechanical rewards, but that she only has one alignment where in other games she would have several Keys/Aspects.

    Mad Adric I really like your idea of Foibles because they feel like the mechanics she is used to, and I may use it. But will it skew the balance of the game too much? (I’m asking because I’m still not familiar enough with the game to know.)

    Alessandro Gianni No, I think you’re spot-on, and I have not really asked enough questions at the beginning of the game. Part of this was because I am using the Ziggurat of the Sun Princess adventure, so I guess I didn’t feel I needed as much background on the world yet. This is a lesson learned about Dungeon World: Ask a ton of questions!

  5. You can send questionnaire out to your players asking them some thing pertinent to the adventure.

    I used “The Slave Pits of Drazhu” as a jumping off point for my campaign, so I after we played that adventure in our first session, I asked players the following questions:

    Where did you come from?

    Name and describe someplace notable that you passed through to get here?

    What brought you to the area first?

    How long have you been in the pits?

    What/who inspired your character to start adventuring?

    Name something that you see as you emerge into the sunlight?

    Name and describe three enemies and three allies to your character.

    My responses were great. J had a druid whose mentor went missing and drazhu had held hostage to force our druid into enslavement. I got the Stabsky Mountains from another player. There was also a group of monks who shepherd sheep and bless their wool. another great element was the “Bard Network”, which one player uses as a way to gather information.

    What I wanted was to use it as a world creation exercise. I can use the answers as plot hooks as well and my players got to feel like their character had story before the campaign started.

  6. +1 is a pretty big deal in World games, so I’d definitely rule that your players could only use a foible generated bonus when dealing with the circumstances caused by a foible, and only one token can be spent on any given roll.

    As for the XP, players will generally get a lot more from failures, but if you don’t want foible XP to overcome other sources, you can set the same limit as alignment XP – you can gain 1 XP per foible triggered at the end of the session.

    Another option for XP related to foibles could be like Bonds, when your player thinks that foible is completed for the character, they can tick it off, mark XP, and write another.

    There’s another method too, and its merely further quantifying the “be a fan of the characters” principle. You could ask your players to come up with up to 3 foibles or drives or fears or principles each. These are a way for your player to say “this is what I want to drive my character”

    Then add a new GM move to your list, “use their foibles to bring drama and pathos into their lives”

    Eventually, when you’re all more comfortable with how moves are built, you and your players can work together to make more in depth custom moves that are about the themes you want to explore. You can draw inspiration from games that have more inter-character drama like apocalypse world, monster hearts.

  7. Don’t forget you can write your own bonds to replace existing ones! So Lady Blackbird might be “I must prove my inherent superiority to ___” “I owe ___ a debt for their assistance escorting me to my once-secret love!” and “I must keep my nobility a secret from ___” or such.

  8. Here’s how I did it in my AW/DW hack, Zombie World: I created “Character Moves.” Every class starts with two. The moves are basically feats of personality; if you achieve one, you get an experience point.

    For example, the Healer class in my game has a Character Move called “Do No Harm.” It says that if he goes through a battle without hurting anyone, he gets to mark experience. The Hunter class has a move called “Sociopath”, that willingly allows him to take -1 ongoing to any Social moves with people UNLESS the topic is about killing zombies. If he does this, he gets an XP.

    For balance, I usually only allow a Character Move to be used once per session, but since each class has two, they typically have a couple of chances to get that spotlight. In later drafts of the game I intend on adding more Character Moves and allowing players to pick and choose their starting two, and spend XP to get more.

  9. Best bet? Use the mechanics she feels most comfortable with as a guidelines for her personality, BITs from BW work well in any system, even more traditional ones, just don’t expect mechanical impact without talking about it with the GM.

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