This is going to be a very Vincent Baker-like RPG-theory post, based on some thoughts about my last session of DW with Eric Nieudan and Patrick Smith.
I’ve gotten a lot of experience with improv GM’ing Dungeon World under my belt now, and I’ve found that an “encounter” (to use D&D terminology) takes roughly an hour to complete, including the time it takes to get to the next encounter. This assume we are playing via Hangouts.
OK, lets call it Dramatic Situation, shortened to DS. I don’t like the word encounter, it sounds weird in this context. It makes me think about fights, which is not everything that there’s to it.
So, if you want to make a one-shot, running for about 4 hours, you usually spend a little less than an hour to start the game out, making characters, asking all the necessary questions and setting the scene.
This leaves the GM with 3 hours of actual game play, which means that we can roughly fit 3 Dramatic Situations into it.
So, if you are like me, not really preparing stuff, then this is actually incredibly useful, because it gives me some knowledge about what we have time for.
So, an easy model for improv gaming I’ve come up with is the following, after yesterdays game:
The first DS can give clues to another DS, which in turn gives the player a means to complete their “quest” by leading them to a final, conclusive DS. This model could be called “Clue, Means, Conclusion”, or CMC-model.
A base assumption for the CMC-model, as I see it, is that the players should have a clear goal the minute the game actually start. The model then have the advantage that it doesn’t require preparation. You just go with the motions of the players, react to their actions.
When a DS emerges, think about how it can lead the players to another DS, one that makes sense for the players to seek out.
In my game yesterday, after the first DS, the Bard got poisoned by stepping into a dart trap. Their captured enemy told them how to find the medicine man (the medicine croc, they were small-sized crocodile men) of their tribe, after some “persuasion”. This was the first DS, leading to a DS with the Medicroc, also going by the name Chiqual.
In this DS, I thought about how I could lead them to a conclusive situation, so I used the fact that Chiqual had leverage over the poisoned bard, making them promise to dispose of the tribe leader, a monstrously huge crocodilian named Xecotl, who was carrying the artifact the players went down into the ruined temple to get.
This turned out to be the conclusive scenario, because they had to either persuade Xecotl to give up the artifact, or take it by force. They tried the former, but because they started provoking him, it ended up being a fist fight to the death between Xecotl and the Paladin, while the Bard sang songs of glory to support him.
It was wonderful, the paladin barely won, and they got hold of the Eye of Ogden, the artifact they were seeking.
I used this CMC-model without thinking about it, but afterwards I talked with Eric Nieudan, and he mentioned that it was the first proper one-shot, actual one-session game he ever played. That just made me think about why it “worked”, and this is my pseudo-conclusion.
It seemed to work pretty well. What do you guys think? Comments? Thoughts?