While Dungeon World assumes that no one knows the setting before campaign start, wouldn’t it be okay for the host of…

While Dungeon World assumes that no one knows the setting before campaign start, wouldn’t it be okay for the host of…

While Dungeon World assumes that no one knows the setting before campaign start, wouldn’t it be okay for the host of the game to vocalize some assumptions when inviting people?

“I want to host a heroic fantasy adventure campaign, where the players command a magical airship in a steampunkish setting. Want to come along?”

I just wanted to play such a campaign, or one-shot, for a while 😉

29 thoughts on “While Dungeon World assumes that no one knows the setting before campaign start, wouldn’t it be okay for the host of…”

  1. No. The gaming police will break down your door.


    I don’t see why “starting with no setting” means you can’t have a few setting concepts in mind. After all, just playing Dungeon World implies certain facts about the setting – a fantasy world with dwarves, elves, monsters, gods, and magic.

  2. Well, I’m just thinking about it, because people have pretty strong assumptions about games they like, and they often correspond to the games own assumptions of use.

    Dungeon World assumes that neither players nor DM knows anything about the setting, that it is supposed to be made from scratch. It will only be reasonable if players assume that this will be the case.

    Of course, it’s different when an assumption is stated as a campaign agenda prior to invitation.

  3. You can still ask questions in any way you want. If you want to have a game heavy about werecreatures just start out asking things about them. The questions you ask heavily flavour the setting in play. Also the starting situation.

    Just start them out in a fight airship against airship and ask questions for there.

  4. “Draw maps, leave blanks.”

    I really don’t see where you can’t have some ideas of what will be in the game. I understand your concern, but I don’t know that “not having a setting” needs to be taken to that extent. After all, front development kind of requires that you set some facts about the world, right?

  5. Tim Franzke Ahhh, what an excellent suggestion 🙂

    Robert Hanz Well, fronts are supposed to be made after the first session, not before. At least according to the rules. One-shot sessions are a little different though, so I guess these could be an exception.

  6. We did a great game of DW last night with Ptolus as the setting. Everyone knew they were giving up some authority, the GM as bound to the setting as the players were. It worked really well.

  7. I’ve also just started a campaign in Ptolus. If your players are OK, you don’t always have to play “by the book”. My players are quite happy to play “the old school way” (inside a scripted campaign setting) as long as I don’t railroad them. And Ptolus seems a reasonably “free” setting where anything can (and will) be shapped through players’ actions.

  8. To be honest, I have a setting and some prep before the first session but, during characters creation, I ask my players a lot of questions and their answers will shape the future adventures.

    PC (players) motivations/actions are, by far, the most inspiring way to create the story to come.

  9. If you’re a backer, check out update 23. In with the Starters is a readme file. It was aptly named. It’s a whole page on prepping DW that covers this very topic.

  10. As a player, I wouldn’t see anything wrong with this approach. As a DM, I’ll certainly bring what I’d like to see in the game – i.e. the Caves of Chaos, 30 years after module B2.

  11. The game’s text itself actually says that the GM is a player, and if she has any ideas for play, then as should speak up. It also says that if no one is interested that you shouldn’t force it. So hey, there ya go.

    Yeah, I told my players that I was interested in either epic fantasy with social stuff and politicking, or space dungeon world. They latched onto the first one and that was that.

  12. Perfectly legit to come to the first session with ideas ahead of time. Pg 175: “If you like, you can plan a little more. Maybe think of an evil plot and who’s behind it, or some monsters you’d like to use.

    If you’ve got some spare time on your hands you can even draw some maps (but remember from your principles: leave blanks), and imagine specific locations.

    The one thing you absolutely can’t bring is to the table is a planned storyline or plot.”

    As far as my GMing style is concerned, you have the bare minimum kind of pitch I use. Usually I’ll write a big generic love letter to kick things off, like what you see at the end of The Planarch Codex. DW doesn’t assume that nobody will know anything at all about the setting, just that nobody will know much, and certainly not everything.

  13. Aaron Friesen I think it’s really important to repeat what Aaron said a bunch of times because just in the last two month or so we’ve covered this several times.  Ultimately, it’s your game.  You get to decide. 

  14. First of all: its your game, do what you like. We wrote what we did for a reason, we think its good, but we’re not infallible.

    With that out if the way: its totally fine to show up with some stuff! Every example in this thread is 100℅ as we intended.

  15. DW will run just fine with the GM being a little more involved with the setting early on. Otherwise the section on converting canned adventures couldn’t exist. Don’t sweat it.

  16. The part that Aaron Friesen quoted should have included some lines about “Think your setting is full of sky ships and floating cities? Check with your players first and make sure to ask them some questions about them along the way.”

  17. Oh indeed! In fact, like two pages later it goes on about that. I didn’t mean to suggest that anyone should show up all, “This game is about airships and floating cities. You want otherwise, go elsewhere.” Definitely be ready to scrap things if the players sound bored with a pitch, and ask questions to see if you can broaden things to where everyone’s excited.

  18. Oh, glad to know! I thought we said something like that but wasn’t sure. I didn’t mean to imply anything about what you said Aaron Friesen, just like pointing out when some things are “by the book.”

  19. Dan Kincaid is about to run a DW game set in a setting we are building using Lexicon. So I sure hope starting the game off with some prebuilt ideas is a good.

  20. I’d also like to point out that “don’t have a predesigned setting” is a pretty old-school thought.  If you look at Forgotten Realms, for instance, and have had experience in super-old school games, you can definitely see where it started (Waterdeep) and how it grew out from its origin.

  21. Lexicon seems like a logical extension of DW’s “collaborative fiction.”  It’s “What’s your patron’s name?  Who is the mayor of this town?”  You’re just doing it all before you play.

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