Would anyone be interested in updating and awesomeifying my DW starter adventure The Slave Pits of Drazhu?

Would anyone be interested in updating and awesomeifying my DW starter adventure The Slave Pits of Drazhu?

Would anyone be interested in updating and awesomeifying my DW starter adventure The Slave Pits of Drazhu? It is out of date and needs new stats and cooler stuff. I can provide the art resources and .indd if that’s useful.

The adventure is here:



55 thoughts on “Would anyone be interested in updating and awesomeifying my DW starter adventure The Slave Pits of Drazhu?”

  1. It was built with a playtest version of DW and the rules have changed a lot. The hit points are wrong, the playbook is wrong, there’s a lot that could use some updating.

  2. Thinking on it now, one thing that I did have to workaround was handling casters. Since the adventure starts with everyone having all their gear taken away, I had to figure out how wizards could still have access to spells starting out, since it would take hours the PCs don’t have to rememorize things.

    I got around this by saying the caster types had collars on that prevented them from casting spells, but also kept them from fading from the casters’ minds; a sort of lockdown. That way, casters could still be helpful before they found their spellbooks or took time to pray.

    Two other small changes I used: I let the Fighter still design his custom weapon, but I gave it to the lead orc, who was keeping it as a “trophy”. That way the Fighter still got use of his best move.

    The other thing was that I let everyone rest up to full and level up to 2 for free when they reached the statue outside Drahzu’s lair just so people could see how that worked.

  3. Sean that’s all good stuff; I fear in its current form it relies too much on individual initiative and improvisation. I’d really like to focus it in such a way that it would be good for a new players or a new GM.

    Stras Acimovic I believe I can export it as IDML you can work with.

  4. Ideas:

    1. contextualize the setting backstory slightly — “Drazhu is excavating the trash pits of the ancient Warlock Awesomiphants” to give the GM more to riff on when it comes to loot.

    2. Add a secret non-public-map section to the dungeon, something that Drazhu’s excavations have unearthed.  Introduce a “devil you know vs. devil you don’t know” vibe to the exploration.

    3.  When you root around for treasure….

    4. Make all the pages the same size, every pdf reader I’ve ever worked with has had trouble printing documents that change page size / orientation.

    I like Sean Dunstan’s changes as well!

  5. I’ve only ever run it for people who’ve never played before, so I don’t think that was an issue. For new GM advice, maybe it would help to have something in the beginning as an example of how moves work.

    Like, the earthquake happens, the goblin panics, and you ask the players “what do you do?”. Then have a sidebar or something saying “here’s the three most likely things the characters can do, here’s how you can use the GM or goblin’s moves to react.”

  6. When I ran it I talked to the wizard. “Wizard, unlike many university taught wizards, you keep your spells on something  unassuming they left with you. What is your spell-book like? Do you keep knots in your hair? Tattooed spells on your arms and legs? Sown into the cloth of your robe?”

  7. Expanding on my own idea:

    Here’s a few examples of how to make moves back based on the actions of the players. Most likely, they’re going to try to get the keys off the goblin, and given the situation they’re probably going to do it through violence. Remember; when someone performs a move, you make one in return.

    1) The PCs kill the goblin

    If the players kill the goblin (and they probably will, given that he’ll go down in a single hit), then you could announce future badness. One of the orcs yells through the bars “hey, what’s goin’ on in there?”, or the characters hear one of the orcs clumsily unlocking the gate (so he can check on the prisoners).

    2) The PCs fail to kill the goblin

    Of course, someone can roll a 6 or less on a Hack & Slash. If the goblin survives an attempt on his life, then you want to look to the goblin’s moves instead of the GM moves. It might try to sound the alarm, which will get things moving pretty quickly, or it might try to make a deal to save its own hide.

    Note that moves aren’t mutually exclusive. The goblin might make a deal, but then raise the alarm when the PC’s guard is down. Likewise, he might make a deal to unlock the “back exit”, but is really leading the PCs to the spider’s lair.

  8. Sean Dunstan that’s great, can you work with Stras Acimovic and John Zo to make this happen? Tell me what you need from me – I think it will be a wonderful resource once your skill and creativity have been added to flesh it out.

  9. The various missing resources of the playbooks fit nicely into the existing questions:

    Where is your spellbook?

    Where is your heirloom weapon?

    Where is your animal companion?

    Why don’t your shapeshifting powers work?


  10. One design assumption I made was that making do without all your awesome stuff would be fine. You pick up cool bits of treasure and equipment in every encounter and often have to use it creatively. Also – at my table at least, anybody who has played DW before plays a pit slave, always.

  11. In both of my runs of this, the players needed to be prompted to search for loot, so I’d like that prompt in the text somewhere, perhaps some interesting stuff falls out of the ceiling during the earthquake.

  12. No offense John Zo, but asking all those kinds of questions seems a bit much for a two-hour no-prep demo/tutorial adventure. For something like this, you’d want to keep setup to a minimum.

    Jason Morningstar I get that, but I think the problem with that is that, if this is intended to get new people interested in the game, you wouldn’t want to take away what makes their character cool and fun to play. Yeah, people who’ve played DW before would probably be okay with playing a pit slave, but if someone wants to play the fighter, you don’t want to say “okay, the cool thing about being the Fighter is that you get a custom-designed awesome weapon” and then take it away two seconds later. That’s not going to get things off on the right foot.

  13. I think the main thing about reworking the module is the question “is this intended to be the Dungeon World Tutorial for people who’ve never played/GM’d it before”, or is it meant to be something you pick up and play when someone in your regular group cancels at the last minute?

    Personally, I see it as the former, but admittedly I like the idea of “tutorial dungeons” because I feel not enough games spent time really teaching you how to play or run them, plus it works perfectly as a convention game since you can talk everyone through character creation, explain how their characters work, and run the dungeon in, yes, about two or three hours front to back.

    When I ran this at PAX East, I did it for six people who’ve never touched a *World game before, and it took about two  and a half hours, but I also spent time walking everyone through all their character moves and explaining “behind the scenes” stuff early on. Like, “here’s how I make a move back to your move. Here’s the goblin’s stats, this is why he did what he did.”

  14. For getting a game rocking instantly, nothing beats pregenerated characters.  Why not include pre-filled-out playbooks for a limited selection of classes?  Fighter, wizard, thief, cleric.  Include the Drazhu-specific bonds and questions on the sheet.  Their class goodies can be tweaked too (“Fighter, you have a bitchin heirloom weapon but the torture master has stolen it”).

    I know DW character creation is fast, but I have met some s.l.o.w. players in my time, and every moment counts in a two hour run.

  15. I think there’s a real need for a solid demo for events like PAX and various Games on Demand, and two hours is the sweet spot. It should give some ownership, excite people about the game’s potential and throw them carelessly into the action and let them do cool stuff that propels them forward relentlessly.

  16. I cannot Plus One Jason’s advice more.

    I also want to make a 4 hour variant (perhaps a separate adventure) that actually hits specific tutorial points for the game a bit more since this is a standard GoD time slot (same for local game days).

    Example: Facing off against a 30 foot solid-rock giant you can’t just ‘hack and slash’ to showcase how to do complex enemy encounter design.

  17. Side note – it’d be cool if this also teaches you how to be a good GM, but really tome that’s secondary or perhaps subsumed in Stras’ larger project. I’d love to see something that spun off from Drazhu, so you could click-n-lock them together if you have four hours or play either alone.

  18. This is happening. I’ll start a google doc soon as I get home and make a wish list that I hope everyone can add stuff to (and comment on) and we can pare it down to things we can actually work with.

  19. Perhaps the four hour version could be an extra level tacked onto the Slave Pits. That gives enthusiastic play groups the option of carrying on after Drahzu is dealt with.

  20. That’s an interesting idea…the “basic” module as the two-hour intro adventure, then the “expansion” to a more standard-issue module.

  21. All that said, we should probably concentrate on making a super tight 2-hr thing before spreading into a four hour thing with more diffuse objectives.

  22. Concerning the “taking away their cool stuff” conundrum, here’s a question you could throw at your players.

    “Why have you infiltrated the Slave Pits of Drazhu as saves?”

    Infiltration implies preparation, so important gear and extras can be close at hand once an initial hurdle is overcome.

  23. What about just saying that everyone plays pit slaves, full stop?

    That makes character creation super easy and de-complicates the “where are your phat powers?” part of the backstory.

    If you want people to get tastes of class moves, put the moves on cards and award them during play. Like if someone finds Drazhu’s magic boots, give them Cast A Spell.

  24. Jason, please send along the indds to me. To get us moving, I’ll do the modernization work on the slave playbook and the monsters next week.

    We can figure out how to pump it up more later.

  25. If nothing else happens, I’ll have a go at formatting it.

    But I know there are others far more talented/skilled at publishing software and graphic design than I.

  26. So I converted and changed the adventure a bit (this is largely to fit the new class format, give a coherent thread to make Drazhu and the slave pits as fronts, and bring things into line with the latest edition).

    Right now it’s just text documents (since I apparently don’t have the layout gene).

    I expanded the already stellar GM advice section.

    Have a “if someone picks X class” handout for getting things rolling quickly.

    Have a first draft of the slave class.

    Custom Moves for the Pits (forex: getting around a hostile area)

    Got about 50% done on converting all the items before RL exploded last year and this got lost along the way somewhere.

    Things that need to be done: 

    I should probably go through what I have and move it to final state.

    I could use someone to help me with the maps (I apparently don’t have the mapping gene either)

    Layout (already mentioned).

    PLAYTESTING! The big lure of the Slave Pits is that it’s playable in a very clean timeframe. I wanted to make sure any changes I made didn’t make it less fun or mess up the tick-tock.

    In other news, if I don’t get some layout volunteers I MIGHT know someone local who I can tap to see if he’s interested in working with me. >_>

  27. I don’t think you really need Fronts for a two-hour standalone demo, unless you wanted to do that thing upthread where there’s the con demo version and the expanded full adventure version.

    I’m curious why you’re making new maps, though.

  28. Jason Morningstar hadn’t expected this to pop up today. The short answer is yes. The long: Expect a link to crop up in this post with a bunch of files in a dropbox or something Sunday since that’s the first chance I’ll have to actually put things together (I’m on the hook deadline wise for things through Sat and have plans for tonight/Sat).

    Sean Dunstan I don’t know that I agree on fronts. The DW purist in me bristles at any prep for session 1, but since that’s the premise of this project I’m writing it in essence like prep for session 2. Love letters and all.

    Besides, Fronts provide all the tools for a GM to improv through the adventure, so it’s just a fancy word for GMs Toolkit organized in a specific format. 

    As for maps – I tried running Slave Pits back when I started the conversion to get a feel for it, and it ends up with some very wierd questions from my groups (what are the slaves doing exactly? Breaking rocks underground makes little sense. Also why is Drazhu, a powerful undead sorcerer, having their crib right next to some poor tunnels with no real purpose. Why does it suck so much to be a fighter starting since you can’t have weapons in slave pits? How about [name of other class]? Why haven’t you busted out previously?) I had a lot of trouble answering some of these on the fly, and if I turned them around stuff would possibly contradict things as they were laid out.

    So after thinking and discussion I took a note from Dark Sun. The slaves are building an arena the deaths in which Drazhu is using for nefarious purposes. Some of the PCs are gladiators, forced to watch all their friends die (there’s intro questions) but being allowed to have a few things or having them nearby. Now the building is coming to an end, the ritual is starting (it’s what caused the earthquake the creates the rend in the walls).  This cleans up some of those nasty questions, while providing Drazhu with motivation, a doom clock (see: fronts) and gives some solid reason to things like ‘pits of giant spiders for gladiators to fight or dispose slaves in’ and such.

    Long story short – new maps.

  29. Sean Dunstan I do in some ways see where you’re coming from. But keep in mind I run con games zero prep. So ANYTHING is mostly just overcomplicating it for me. What I’m trying to focus on is keeping it reasonably sized while providing a newbie or pickup-gm tools to do everything they need. I’m thinking of it as like a Kit you can hand to someone and they’ll be ready to go even if they’re not pro DW gm’s with tons of experience.

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