Disclaimer: Not a Bard Week Post.

Disclaimer: Not a Bard Week Post.

Disclaimer: Not a Bard Week Post. 

I’m new to DungeonWorld, our group just finished playing through a couple first sessions in our starting-dungeon. Tomorrow night, we’re going to play again. However, that first dungeon is more or less “finished”. While there are areas they have yet to explore, they have found the tome they were sent to find and cleared out the goblins. I expect they will be headed back to the nearby town to claim their reward. 

By asking questions and building on answers, we’ve learned that the area is threatened by the return of an elder dragon, and further to the East, the arcane city that a couple other characters are from is threatened by some lizardman tribes of nearby swamps. From those, I have roughly built out two Fronts. 

So… now what?

I know I shouldn’t be overly concerned with “planning” this next session, but I’m paranoid that we’ll have a dull session “in town”, and I feel like I should be building towards something. 

How do the experienced DW GMs handle a bit of downtime? Do you have ques for further Action up your sleeves? Any ideas on how to spice things up and portray a fantastic world filled with adventure (outside of a dungeon)? 


16 thoughts on “Disclaimer: Not a Bard Week Post.”

  1. Well Town is just like anything else in the game. When they come to the town, don’t just give them happy-dibby-freedom town but make your hard moves. Show them what the people there are scared about. Show how the guilds and mages there are fighting against each other. 

    The players will make moves too and those will trigger things happening. 

    Understand that it is not your job to come up with adventure for them. (actually it kind of is because part of your agenda is to “Fill the characters’ lives with adventure”)

    What you should do is have stuff ready that they can interact with. Don’t make any decisions about the next steps they should be taking (play to find out what happens). The way you fill their lives with adventure is by making moves yourself.

    Leave it to the players to decide what they want to do next and if they do nothing have a bad thing over there go worse.

    Have you created fronts for the Lizardmen and the Dragon? These will be good places to start with “planning” for your next adventure.

    However, don’t assume that the players will necessarily interact with these things. If they don’t then the fronts will advance and stuff will get simply worse.

    If they have no idea on what to do next, remind then that they could Spout Lore about areas close to the city or just talk with people. There might be a caravan that needs protecting or some other problems that the townies have.   

  2. Bard Week is over anyway and you can post about whatever you want whenever you want. 

    You can start your own WhateverWeeks whenever you want. It is a free tavern. 

  3. So my prep should be planning “things to interact with”, preferably involving my Fronts. While I have brainstormed on my Fronts, I’m not confident that my Grim Portents are written to spur people into action. 

    Maybe there’s a big town-meeting taking place where the Mayor is trying to calm hysteria about rumors of the Dragons return? We’ve established that the Mayor is kind, but incompetent, maybe they’re doing a really poor job of calming the commoners… perhaps a riot if the PCs dont get involved? 

    Meanwhile, maybe the characters from the eastern city get some sort of arcane telegram that recalls them ASAP?

  4. In a perfect world you would set up this telegram at the same time as the characters get word from a kobold-dragon mage attack on the eastern farms. Putting them in a spot. 

  5. Unless you’re interested in having town be a “dungeon” at this point, I might recommend the skip-a-bit technique. Dungeon World isn’t a shopping oriented game, so it might suffice to say, “after a quick resupply in town, you begin your Perilous Journey to the Dragon’s Lair to slay the beast.”

    It really all depend on where you want to play. 🙂

  6. Those Grim Portents sound okay to me. If the first one is ignored, just move onto the next. When the players do nothing, it’s a golden opportunity for you to make a move.

  7. Seems like there will be a major “Hard Choice” to make, whether to ignore the Dragon rumors or ignore the lizardman tribes to the east. Either way, a Front will advance without them?

  8. andrew smith Yep. The list of Grim Portents and the associated Impending Doom are what will happen if the danger continues to be ignored. If you make the Grim Portents things that will have a tangible, direct effect on the party, they become harder to ignore.

    Hard choices are great, because they give options to the players, which in turn gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership. 

  9. Yes they decide what happens. They don’t have control of what is happening there but they choose what thing to engange with for the next session(s). They might not even know what is happening over there for quite a few sessions but it should be felt at some time. 

    It seems to make the world more alive too.

  10. “By asking questions and building on answers, we’ve learned that the area is threatened by the return of an elder dragon, and further to the East, the arcane city that a couple other characters are from is threatened by some lizardman tribes of nearby swamps.”

    Awesome. Now the question is, what are the characters going to DO about those things? Players should be proactive in a Dungeon World game. They can’t just sit back and expect the GM to make the adventure come to them.

    In your specific case andrew smith,  it sounds like the characters have to choose between finding out more about the returning elder dragon, and returning to their home city to deal with the Lizardmen. Or maybe the go off in another direction completely and ignore those two threats (in which case they’ll have to deal with the consequences eventually).

    This is going to sound preachy, but I hate the concept of “downtime”. In my opinion, there is no down time in games. Wherever the characters are and whatever they are doing, there is something interesting happening, or they are actively working towards a goal. Handwaving everything that happens outside the dungeon makes the world feel static and boring. Things change while the characters are out adventuring! Orcs attack. NPCs rise to or fall from power.

    You can certainly fast forward or skip over stretches of time where very little happens. If, for example the characters travel to that  arcane city to deal with the Lizardmen, you don’t have to act out the journey if it’s going to be an uneventful trip. 

  11. So, in a quick follow-up, we had a decent session, but not perfect. We had some awkward downtime (even tho I tried to make it engaging) in town that I think we could skip or gloss over in the future, focusing only on the key interactions. They made their choice to guard caravans against Lizardmen and head East away from the Dragon… 

    My group of friends is surprisingly passive at the table sometimes, which would be fine if i was a total control-freak GM… but I’m not, I’m hoping to get them more into the storygaming mindset so I can do less prep-work each week. Encouraging them to take action rather than them waiting for me to push it in front of them has been a challenge. Overall, the push toward narrative gameplay is going better with DW than it did when we tried MouseGuard, and we’ve come a long way since playing d20 games last year. 

    Thanks again, All, for the advice! 

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