Hello friends!

Hello friends!

Hello friends!  I am new to Dungeon World, and I have just recently looked through the book to get prepped for running a game soon.  The rules look very fun, very light, but I admit the first session rules are very intimidating for me.  Could I get some ideas, pro tips, or anything else that might help me out?  How did some of your first sessions go?  How did you keep the players actively involved with helping you create the world?  I’m particularly concerned about a few of the shy “Oh, I don’t know” players.

10 thoughts on “Hello friends!”

  1. Two-part questions, where the first part is in fact an assertion about the world, work for me with more shy players. You know, like the ones from Dungeon Starters. For example, “How did you learn that dragon blood is a dangerous acid?” instead of “what is dragon blood like?” After warming up with those we can move towards more open-ended questions.

  2. As a first-time DW GM, I found the first session went very smoothly because of two things: 1) I thought of a few broad, world-defining facts beforehand; 2) I asked each player to fill in and flesh out those broad facts with their own personal, character-based details.

    This is an iteration of the advice in the book: “Draw maps and leave blanks.” You have to bring something to the table, but then leave it to the players to run with it.

    For our game (example): I decided that the Orcish Horde had been nearly wiped out in the War of Purity. (What did your characters do during the war?) As a result of decades of bloodshed, the Elves are leaving the Free Lands. (To the Elven Ranger: what is keeping you here?) The Queen is tired of war, and wants to be reunited with her long-lost brother. (To the Paladin: what is the queen’s name? Why does she trust you to carry out this mission?)

    During all of this, I furiously wrote down their answers carefully. Their answers tell you what they want to see. I took home our group-generated world map, along with a page or two of notes about the PCs, and I brainstormed a Front or two.

  3. All good advice so far, and hopefully I’ll add to it. 🙂

    First, I always try to ask leading questions. Questions that I know will give me useful information regardless of how the player answers. Questions that allow the player to provide input, while also telling them something about the world. Antti Kirjavainen’s Dragon’s Blood question is a great example.

    Second, I say go ahead and “cheat” for your first session. Grab a published module and use that as a jumping off point. The first ever game of Dungeon World I ran was based on an old D&D module. It provided me with a dungeon map, a big bad, and encounters. All I did was replace the D&D monsters with Dungeon World monsters and come up with a few Custom Moves to handle some of the cool effects in the adventure. Then I started the PCs off on the path to the adventure site, with a very clear motivation to continue the journey. Like this:

    “So, you’ve been following the trail of the Snake Cultists through the stinking mud of the Rushmoor Swamp for about a day and a half. The trail is very easy to follow, as they have a bunch of prisoners from the village with them. They’re not even bothering to cover their tracks. You estimate they’re about half a day ahead of you.”

    It should be pretty clear to the players that they should go rescue the helpless villagers! After that, I asked each player a question to help add detail, and flesh out the situation.

    Fighter, why have you sworn revenge on the vile Snake Cult?

    Cleric, when you and your companions cleared out that infested temple a few days ago, what blasphemous magics did the Snake Cult priests use against you?

    Stuff like that. Yes, it’s railroady, but I find that players often appreciate a good solid hook for them to go investigate.

  4. Great stuff from Christopher Stone-Bush. It isn’t railroading if you are willing to head into the open if the players lead you there. In other words, you can even have detailed backup plans if you are willing to throw them away or change them into something completely different if the feedback from players leads you to do so.

    The trick is to ask them and ask genuine questions. You’ll have the backup answer anyway so you can be confident in waiting the silence that lasts a few seconds (or longer) when you throw the question about the setting back at them. Do that a couple of times and incorporate their answers so that they know you are for real asking these questions and willing to use their output.

  5. I’ll also add that it’s important to use the answers the players give you. The first few games I ran I occasionally forgot to make the players’ answers matter. For example, at the start of one scenario I asked the Bard to describe the strange tracks the party was following to the witch’s tower. The player gave a great answer…

    which I then did nothing with. That was nearly 8 months ago now, and I still feel kind of bad about it. 🙁

  6. This is great information, and thank you all so much for it.  If I may dig deeper into the question, do you think that this had an effect on the players?  Or better, what sort of effect?  I do not want to intimidate them because I can see how giving them so many options could, but at the same time I can see how they could really enjoy how empowered Dungeon World lets them be….

  7. When I ran my first game, one of my players (I had three) was a fairly new roleplayer and uncomfortable just making stuff up. He was (and still is) in the mindset that the GM has a story they plan to run the characters through, and he was worried about “messing that up”. I therefore gave him an “easy” question. One that had the least pressure attached to it.

    I think I asked him something like “What is one secret you learned about the Snake Cult?” No wrong answer here, and it could be something big like “They plan to take over the world!” or it could be small like “They have snake tattoos on their left cheek.” When I asked him (and I asked him last so he could see there was no wrong way to answer my questions) he thought for a while. Not wanting him to feel pressured, I jumped in and told him that it was totally cool if he wanted to “bank” his answer and give it to me later. He did, and we started the adventure.

    A few minutes in and he tells me that the Snake Cult has giant snakes fighting for them. Maybe not the most original answer ever, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?

  8. +Brandon Taylor, to your second question I say this: I run a game over online text chat and I stumbled on some chat from the last game where 2 players were answering questions for a new player..

    Without me there, these two players were ecstatic about how they have created things that “exist” and that every session they get to add more, or discover things they didn’t know before.

    Make it clear to everyone at the table that they will get from the game what they out into it.

    If they want an adventure dished up on a railroad and brought to their table, that can happen, but at least theyhave the option to give more.

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