I have a couple of people who have expressed interest in playing DW, and I want to make sure I have fully grokked…

I have a couple of people who have expressed interest in playing DW, and I want to make sure I have fully grokked…

I have a couple of people who have expressed interest in playing DW, and I want to make sure I have fully grokked the campaign structure. So here’s how it goes, in as plain and concise language as I can. Please correct me if there is something overlooked. 

The first session is mostly to establish the world and the group’s place in it. Building off of the initial details and what the players offer by asking them questions, the GM builds a rough outline of a world, giving just enough detail to get the first adventure going and leave plenty of blank spaces.

Now that the world is established, the GM can come up with some dangers, the Big Bad guys. Each danger has an Impulse, that’s what the Danger wants. If the danger is a group of cultists, their Impulse may be to summon their elder God.

Next comes Grim Portents. These are the events that warn the players that the Danger is taking another step towards their goal. A Portent should be some kind of significant event that the characters can interact with, not something that happens off-stage. When all of the Grim Portents come to pass, the Impending Doom is realized, something very nasty with far-reaching repercussions.

The GM can now add more details to the world’s history and to the map. Not a lot, just a few places of interest that will become relevant as they relate to the various Fronts that will come marching along. The details will be filled in by the PCs when they get there. There should be ample opportunities/questions to make the characters more involved, not only by tying them to the world and Fronts, but also the people and places that are still only rough outlines yet. When the PCs interact with them, they become more detailed through play.

4 thoughts on “I have a couple of people who have expressed interest in playing DW, and I want to make sure I have fully grokked…”

  1. You’ve got it. A danger’s impulse is not necessarily what they want, it’s just what they tend to do. The Doom is what they are working towards ultimately. At least some of the dangers should threaten something the characters care about, or at least be something they could profit by stopping. Also, dangers are not necessarily Big, and the Dooms not necessarily far-reaching. For example, one front could just be the dangers in a particular cave. Fronts are tools to help you organize the dangers’ motivations and actions, and have them handy, regardless of scale.

    Aside from those small adjustments, you know what to do!

  2. Another way to look at dooms is that they’re not necessarily what the danger wants, but the consequence of the danger not being interacted with.

    A well meaning priest may want to remove evil from the world with his ritual, but the doom is that free will is removed.

    The dwarves merely want to mine gold from the deep vein, but the doom is the release of an ancient evil.

  3. Aaron Feild and Adrian Thoen both have the right of it. The Impulse of a Danger isn’t necessarily what the Danger wants, it’s more what the Danger does. That could be because it’s a conscious entity intentionally trying to bring about the Grim Portents and Impending Doom linked to it. But the Danger could also just be a force or nature or some mindless thing that does what it does from blind instinct. It depends on what the Danger is.

    Fronts and Dangers also vary widely in scale and effect. A Danger can be a world shaking event, such as an unstoppable tide of undead sweeping across the land, but it can also be small and local, such as a corrupt mayor taking over a small village. Again, it all depends on what the Danger is.

    Also, in my opinion Grim Portents can happen off-screen. But the characters should always be aware of when a Grim Portent comes to pass. Like that tide of undead, for example. Perhaps a Grim Portent is “The city of Durinshome falls to the undead army.” If the characters are in Durinshome when that Grim Portent gets checked off, then they’ll naturally get to interact with it (and hopefully prevent it). But if they’re on the other side of the continent when that Grim Portent comes to pass, then all they’ll get is rumors and reports after the fact. The characters don’t have to actually witness the effects of a Grim Portent being checked off, but it should affect them.

    Lastly, why worry about running a whole campaign at first, Peter Johansen ? Why not just start with a one-shot? It sounds like your players are new to Dungeon World (I might be wrong about this), and I don’t think it’s necessary to start a campaign right off the bat. With DW’s fill in the blank nature, You can run several self contained adventures with your group, and use the fiction generated in those games to build a coherent picture of the world. Honestly, I’ve only run one-shots so far (both at cons and with my home group) but I totally see how they could all fit together into a single campaign world.

    So, I’m not saying don’t do a campaign, but why not start smaller? It’s less work for everyone involved, and possibly less intimidating.

  4. Sounds like you have it spot on. I always think of the dooms as (I’ve read this somewhere, but I forget where) things that will happen if the players do nothing, or fail to act when they should.

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