Hey, folks.

Hey, folks.

Hey, folks. I’m new to Dungeon World and planning on running a game in a couple of weeks–just a one-shot, but if it goes well I might make a campaign out of it. I’m looking for advice on how much prep I should come to the table with. I had been elaborately detailing a dungeon and coming up with motives and plans for all of the inhabitants when I suddenly realized that I was ignoring the principle to “leave blanks”.

I want to sell my friends on the game, so I want to capture the DW feel, but I also don’t want to bumble my way through a four hour session. So, how much prep is too much? How much is enough? Any tips in general for an experienced GM trying to break out of the D&D rut?

16 thoughts on “Hey, folks.”

  1. I hate to say this, but it takes a few sessions GMing to get the hang of DW, in my experience.  Here’s the best advice I can give:

    +Let the players do anything as long as it follows the fiction.

    +If they do something not covered by the rules, offer them a hard bargain or ugly choice, or just say it happens.

    +Listen to an Actual Play.

    +Don’t let anyone Hack & Slash without giving it some color.

    +After you make a move, always ask the players “What do you do?”

    +If it seems bad-ass, do it.

  2. Thanks for the advice. I’ve read through the guide a couple of times (once beforehand once after actually reading the rules). What I’m really wondering about is how to go about running a first session without falling flat on my face. It seems like DW discourages mapping out a complete dungeon ahead of time.

  3. Well, I’ve read some accounts of other GMs and listened to a bit of a podcast session, and I think I’m definitely go light on the prep, maybe even no prep. I’m kind of thinking of approaching it like I’m 8 years old again playing “let’s pretend”with a bunch of friends and just letting the story evolve.

    What do you think of these as some leading questions to set the stage after character creation:

    What brought you so far from civilization?

    What is the terrain like here?

    Why did you sleep so poorly last night?

    What did the party get in an argument over this morning?

    What is attacking you right now?

  4. Some prep you can do is just write ideas on some cards.  They can be useful if you are caught drawing a blank.  Maybe you’ll use them, maybe not.  

    But more importantly, start the game with arrows in the air or some other sort of exciting beginning.  

  5. Arrows in the air, Richard Robertson? That sounds like a glorious In Media Res approach 🙂

    GM’ing one-shots can be tricky, because there’s usually less time to finish things. As such, giving the players a clear goal from the beginning, or even just a clear danger of some sort, might be a good idea.

    You can use a combat to introduce the game mechanics, and then ask a question like “Why are you fighting goblins on a ship in a storm?”, and just take it from there.

  6. Kasper Brohus I think Richard Robertson is referring to the opening scenes of many action show episodes where something dramatic happens, some action occurs, credits roll, and then the story (episode) begins to unfold. 

  7. Misha Polonsky Oh, yeah. It’s a classic way to start things out. It gives a sense of danger and excitement from the get go, and it instantly invests the characters (and hopefully the players) in the story.

    It’s like a teaser and appetizer combined 🙂

  8. That’s exactly what I mean, and it usually takes you places you never expected it to!

    I think GMing DW is much more fun than GMing any other game I’ve ever played.   Playing to Find Out What Happens, rather than to get the characters to follow your storyline.

  9. I’m pretty excited to GM for Dungeon World. I’ve always enjoyed GMing, but the prep always made it seem like a chore once the romance of a new campaign cooled down. DW seems like it will be refreshing because the rules explicitly call for the GM to not try to foresee everything and map out an entire world.

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