A not-so-short overview of my first time DMing Dungeon World.
Originally shared by David Lacerte
So I GM’ed my first Dungeon World game last Friday evening with a group of players completely new to the game – and mostly new to RPGs, too. Simply put, it was blast!
As soon as we were ready to begin, all in all, character generation, rules explanation, basic moves explanation and some Q&A took about an hour, no more. We ended up with a hammer-wielding Fighter, a Cleric, a Wizard (“I cast MAGIC MISSILE!” “I attack the darkness!” jokes were made, of course), a Bard and a Barbarian (just discovered that class, it’s so awesome).
It took the players only a very short fight to understand that you do NOT just say your move or pick the dice : you have to actually describe what you’re doing, it’s the GM’s job to map your description to an actual move. The players really liked that aspect of the game.
What happened during the game? Here’s the TL;DR version.
The PCs were hired, as they crossed a small city, to investigate missing miners at the local mine : they were given a guide to the mines. The entrance of the mine was guarded by a bunch of bandits who were looking to extort some money out of miners, not knowing that activity has ceased at the mine. After a quick chat, they attacked and before long, half the bandits were lying in their own blood and the remaining bandits fled, looting and nearly killing their guide while doing so. They brought the guide back to the village who drew a rough map of the mines. I figured the map could be incomplete and somewhat misleading (hehehe)…
Except my players were smarter than that! As they entered the mine, they noticed a bunch of papers the foremen had left on some table. “There’s surely a full map of the mine in those papers! The foreman would never be without one.” That made sense so I just smiled and gave them a full, to scale map – except that there was one extra corridor and room on the guide’s map : of course they headed that way. On their way, they heard voices and steps…
They were quickly ambushed by a bunch of goblins with bows. The party had very few ranged attacks (only the Bard had a bow and he was an Elf so I figured he could the goblins). Following a failure by the Cleric, they were flanked by another small bunch of goblins. It took the PCs quite some time to come up with a plan and the arrows kept coming! They backtracked and the wizard cast Invisibility on the Elf Barbarian, sending him ahead to attack the Goblins shooting them. That was a nasty surprise for them!
Fast forward a long fight – Goblins arms kept popping out of holes in the walls, strangling them, hitting them, clawing at them, disarming them – it all climaxed with a fight against an Ogre while the whole party was very low on HP : the Cleric must’ve failed at least three healing spells, if not more. Result? Another Ogre came their way! They managed to (painfully) get rid of those.
They ended up in a room with a Demon sitting inside a summoning circle. He told them he was summoned there to himself summon a very large army of lesser demons to conquer the world. He looked tired, really, and pleaded with the PCs to kill him since he could not leave until he had summoned a million demons. There was much discussion : could they trust him? Could they take the chance to leave him there, summoning such a large army? The Barbarian took it – as well as his axe – into his own hands and raised his blade to behead him. As soon as the blade crossed the circle, all hell went loose, quite literally : a massive army of hellhounds, quasits, fire demons and many more were freed, as well as the demon in the circle. The game ended with the PCs hiding under a hay stack that served as bed for the Ogres (don’t mention the smell) while the imprisoned miners were slaughtered and the town guards barely managed to close the gates.
Whew! That wasn’t so TL;DR after all.
Things to improve on, next time :
– Make sure everyone gets the spotlight. The wizard, for instance, was a bit more quiet than the other players and could pretty much only cast Magic Missile. I should’ve given him more opportunities to Spout Lore.
– Follow through with consequences. During the fight with the Ogre, the Barbarian had a failure and the Ogre slammed him into the ground, raising his mace high above his head. I asked the Fighter, who was nearby, “What do you do?” He chose to attack the goblin who was harassing the wizard, bard and cleric. I should’ve had the Ogre simply hit the Barbarian but instead went around the table a few times before someone finally decided to give the Barbarian a hand. Ugly choices, y’know?
– Rethink partial successes and failures. I had to stop quite a few times and think really hard about what could happen to them inside a mine. I had a few good ideas (the walls being full of tiny holes for goblins to harass people who passed in the corridor was pretty good, I think) but sometimes I only reused the same ones – players getting tackled and thrown to the ground were too common, for instance.
But, all in all, we had a great time and the players really enjoyed the experience.