Hey guys, here’s a post that I put on Reddit that I think you’d be interested in, too!

Hey guys, here’s a post that I put on Reddit that I think you’d be interested in, too!

Hey guys, here’s a post that I put on Reddit that I think you’d be interested in, too!

I ran my first game last night – and I think to great success.

tl;dr: A spoiled princeling, his barbarian bodyguard, and his druid tutor kill men in a bar fight, turn away an offer they cannot refuse from a mob boss, then break out of a fortified city in the dead of night. 

We created characters and bonds over dinner; the three PCs decided that one of them, a ranger named Aranador, was the prince of a small kingdom sent through these lands to achieve manhood. With him was a barbarian, Hagard, from the far lands who owed a life debt to the king, and a druid, Elana, from the Whispering Planes that served as the ranger’s tutor.

Using my leading questions I wanted to start the action in a dangerous place; the first suggestion was a dungeon. No.  Actually, it was a nightclub in a metropolitan city called Dungeon. Mid-fight with the son of a powerful mob boss in the city who the ranger had insulted.

The son and his henchmen were quickly dispatched, with the ranger gutting the mob princeling and the barbarian taking out three henchmen largely using his fists and the wooden bar. The druid was no slouch, turning into a cheetah to run down one who was going for help.

When they slipped out the back to evade the city guards, a thief from the rival gang meet them and offered to take them to shelter; they accepted and were led down into the sewers. There, the rival boss thanked them for removing a foe, and offering to give them protection in exchange for 200 gold. Clearly not having the funds available, he would gladly allow them to work off the debt using small tasks — but the party refused.

Their attempts to sneak out of the sewers brought the town night watch down upon them, let by an inhuman wraith (think Orzhov from M:TG). The chase through the sewers led to the eventual defeat of several hounds sent to track them down and a madcap attempt to seal the sewer grate they exited from by throwing a burning hobo barrel at their pursuers.

We ended with a fight in a tower to open one of the main gates. The druid flew through the top as an eagle, shifting into an elephant in mid-flight in an attempt to overpower the watchmen, but failed; pinned to the wall by a thrown spear, he struggled as the barbarian and ranger forced their way up the stairs.

They succeeded, barely, with the barbarian forcing closed the gate just in time. Our party fled into the night badly wounded, most at 1hp, and with the druid clutching an ear so badly ruined that he would be disfigured and take a -1 ongoing to hearing when Discerning Realities.

So, overall a good game. As a DM used to preparation overload, it was refreshing to just run things by the seat of my pants. But I have some questions:

 – I had a bit of a tough time getting people to just tell me what they wanted to do instead of proclaiming “I Defy Danger!”. How can I help?

 – The druid had a tough time in fights because he wanted to be an older character with less strength, more dexterity. Most of his bids to tackle, trample, and otherwise rend the flesh of his enemies failed because he had no modifier to STR. Should I be keeping this in mind for next time to make sure people don’t nerf themselves before the game starts?

 – How many creatures can our heroes fight at one time? At one time there were 6 town guards surrounding 3 intrepid explorers – a beatdown that left them alive, but barely. This was largely their fault, though; they staged a full assault on a major gate tower in the dead of night. Of course there were guards there, and they would have called more guard friends.

 – The PCs largely used STR and CON in the game, and commented on how they saw less of a need for the other stats because I didn’t make them roll “diplomacy” checks for interactions with NPCs. It was a one-shot with lots of brute force used to solve problems, but how can I help them leverage all their skills?

That’s it. I enjoyed the game, the PCs enjoyed the game, and I think we have a new weapon in our arsenal for one-shots and a new ongoing campaign when the full-time DM slot re-opens. Thanks for reading!

11 thoughts on “Hey guys, here’s a post that I put on Reddit that I think you’d be interested in, too!”

  1. A good write-up, sounds like you enjoyed yourselves! Quick answers for your questions:

    – When someone says “I defy danger!” You say “_How_ ?” They describe what their character is doing, then you give them a move as appropriate. This might be defy danger, but doesn’t have to be.

    – Druids can be tricky! I’ve had the exact same problem. If a player wants to play an older, more dextrous druid, they can be – but yeah, that means they’re not going to be as effective in combat, mechanically. (On the plus side, they’re more likely to fail, which means more XP.)

    See above though – let the player describe what they’re doing, then tell them the move they should make. If they aren’t happy with that move (because it doesn’t use the stat they want) offer them the opportunity to change their description.

    – It depends on the enemies’ skill, and trial and error with your party, I’d say.

    – If the players aren’t using certain stats when perhaps they should be, that’s prime opportunity for a GM move. (Maybe that successful Defy danger meant they dodged the hound in front of them, but they missed seeing the other 3 coming round the corner!)

    In a one-shot it’s probably not the end of the world, but in a campaign if a player only uses one or two stats (typically the ones they’re strongest in, so they pass all the time) they’re missing out on getting XP too.

    Hope this helps!

  2. I agree with what was said above. I have two more thoughts to add as well:

    The Druid with high dex can be a challenge, but can be solved with a little cooperation from you and the player. His job will be the easiest, playing up the dexterity of his Druid instead of his strength. For you, that’s a little tougher. Follow the GM moves that are given to you. Present the Druid challenges that play up his strengths a little more, or give him a weapon with a ‘precise’ tag so he can attack with dex instead. It’s ok that he struggles with strength rolls, that’s how he built the character!

    Diplomacy and character interaction is tough to do in a one shot, especially if you don’t have any characters that are geared that way like the bard or paladin. I wouldn’t worry about it, but if this is extended into a campaign, give them npcs that they care about or can’t just simply kill that they have to work with/work past. An example from my game, one of my players pissed off the Captain of the Guard, and while the captain wasn’t about to fight the heroes or arrest them, she definitely made their life tougher while in her town. It was up to my players to come up with a way to apologize, in both action and words.

  3. For the Druid, a quick and simple method is to create a custom move for whatever shape they chose, like Quick and Agile: substitute Dex for Str when Hack and Slash, or something like that. I think the druid’s shapeshift even says that the GM creates custom moves to represent the different animal forms.

    As to number of enemies and strengths, I say simply choose what narratively makes sense. The game gives flexibility such that if the players find themselves outmatched, they can run, parlay, do other things, regroup, and rethink the problem.

  4. You are a fan of the characters, so indulging in all the STR and CON moves is OK 🙂

    Make their enemies countless… They can’t to hope to fight a whole squadron of guards, so….. What else can they do to get out of this situation?

    Threaten their bonds – encourage tension-ridden moments with people they care about that requires more than violence to solve.

  5. You shouldn’t be calling for moves when the druid is shapeshifted. They spend the hold they earn on their shapeshift roll to auto succeed on shape-specific moves. E.g., he doesn’t roll Hack and Slash when he’s a bear, he Rends Limb from Limb – spends a hold and inflicts class damage with the messy tag.

  6. Marshall Brengle, I disagree unless that’s been explicitly addressed by Sage/Adam outside of the rulebook. Under “Shapeshifter,” it reads, “You still use your normal stats, but some moves may be harder to trigger — a housecat will find it hard to do battle with an ogre.” The shapeshift moves let you do special things allowed by your animal form, like take flight, breathe water, or trample — but you can still make all of the normal moves unless your new form somehow makes it impossible.

  7. Jason Lutes They CAN still use their normal moves (in fact, they must if it’s triggered) but when they spend their hold to use their animal shape moves, they just happen, exactly as it would for a monster.  If the move is “Rend limb from limb” that’s exactly what happens, no roll necessary (because he spent hold to use it).  “Housecats have a hard time battling an ogre” is just an emphasis on fiction first.  But if a GM gave the Druid’s housecat shape a move called “claw out their eyes” then when the move was made, it would just happen, even if it was an ogre.

  8. Jon Kroeger, thanks for that clarification. What you describe is my understanding of how it works, I was just taking issue with the notion that you can only make the animal moves when shapeshifted.

  9. I apologize for my misleading comment. I had misremembered the Druid rules. Jon Kroeger has it right. 

    But to make an addendum to the OP about the druid, perhaps the more straightforward solution is make sure the player is narratively describing more Dex-based actions, if he/she is looking to do fancier moves like tripping an opponent, and thus not trigger Hack and Slash. 

    Like “I want to jump on the ogre in wolf form to knock him off balance.”

    “Ok, that sounds like Defy Danger, roll+Dex.”

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