Not so much actual play as a report of my first foray. :)

Not so much actual play as a report of my first foray. 🙂

Not so much actual play as a report of my first foray. 🙂

Originally shared by Ryan M. Danks

So, my wife and I found some time between cooking tasks to have a running game of Dungeon World throughout the evening. Here’s my takeaway:

• It’s certainly different from more conventional methods. I liked how freeform it was (the whole conversation thing).

• Despite its differences, the story overall didn’t play out differently, and if anything was a little clumsier, but I chalk that up to my inexperience.

• Related to the point above, the fights didn’t go any faster than they do in other systems, which isn’t exactly a negative, just something I anticipated going in.

• I got imagination fatigue with all of the 7-9 results that I had to come up with a challenge for.

In all, we had fun, and I found some stealable mechanics :). I’d like to try it again with some more experienced players before I make a final judgement, but right now I’m not sure it’s my game.

23 thoughts on “Not so much actual play as a report of my first foray. :)”

  1. GMing Dungeon World will definitely increase your imagination-fu skills. I also think it’s über cool that you were able to get up and running so quickly.

  2. I’ll admit having little time to prepare, but I figured that was encouraged by the text.

    It was a lot of fun for my wife. She usually gets bored of all the mechanical bits in games I run, but since I interpreted her moves from her descriptions, she was just telling a story. But I’m not sure I couldn’t do that in another game just as easily.

    Like I said, I need to play with some experienced players a few times and really get into it.

  3. My son and mom were hesitant to play. He is 11, she is 64.

    (As an aside, back in the late 70’s, I remember my mother and father taking me to a church special session about the evils of DnD…)

    It was my first time GMing Dungeon World. I made a ton of mistakes. Later my mom told me she wanted to play again. A few hours ago my son said he would play Dungeon World anytime with me.

    I’m pretty sure neither of them would have enjoyed a more rigid RPG as much.

  4. Wynand Louw, I’m comparing to Fate, primarily, as that’s my current go to game.

    Other comparisons I commonly make are to M&M (which I run petty fast given my very intimate knowledge of that system) and Cortex Plus.

  5. I had trouble thinking up 7-9 results in my first run too, but it gets easier with practice. My main problem was that I thought I was supposed to offer the player options every single time: “a hard choice”. Somewhere I read something that cleared it up: 7+ is fundamentally a success —which means you win whatever was at stake. But if the roll is less than ten, it’s going to cost you. What else could go wrong? Are there any drawbacks or complications involved?

    Remembering that 7+ is a success (rather than a hard choice) made it work for me. Give them what they wanted, and make a move. The standard GM moves, dungeon moves, front moves, and monster moves can all be useful prompts. Sometimes it will trigger something to happen off-screen, and that’s fine too!

    Since that insight came into bloom, the game has been a lot more lively and imaginative, especially the combat! Last weekend, our Ranger got grabbed by a horde of zombies, taking injury as they tried to pull her apart! She got a 7-9 on Defy Danger when she tried to break free. That meant she got free!..but her backpack was torn apart in the skirmish, and all her gear fell scattered amid the feet of her enemies! [Use up their resources.]

    I hope this helps!

  6. Thanks!

    Fortunately I read a very good document someone posted about that helps clear things up for people (can’t remember name of author at the moment).

    He got me thinking in terms of setup and consequence, which helped. Unfortunately, it’s just an area I guess I’m going to need practice in.

  7. John Allder Stephens had really good advice. A 7-9 is stilla success, and should feel like one. You just have to pay for it. A 6- can be a success too, but at so high a cost you wish you never took the risk. 😉

    Another thing that helps Ryan M. Danks is fictional positioning. Get the players to really narrate what they are doing. Not just “I attack the troll.” but “I spring forward to swing my sword at the troll’s arm.” Being clear on what your characters are doing makes it much easier to see whatbad things can happen on a 7-9 result.

  8. That’s a good point. My wife kept describing “I shoot him with my bow” or “I pull my dagger and stab him.”

    Not sure how that would work with Rangers being able to call shots, seems like we would be taking away from that character by allowing everyone to describe the called shots like that.

  9. Anyone can (and should) make called shots. That doesn’t guarantee that the shot will land where they want on a given H&S or Volley, because in those moves your enemy is aware of you. The only guarantee for non-Rangers is that they deal damage on 7+. You might be slashing at the enemy’s throat, but in Hack & Slash and Volley it’s up to the GM whether you get her jugular, decapitate her, or deal damage.

    The Ranger, on the other hand, gets codified mechanical benefits for called shots.

    It’s still helpful to know what everyone is going for when they launch into action, and called shots are part of that, even if they don’t get exactly what they want.

  10. Again, exactly what John Allder Stephens said. Anyone can fire an arrow at the Orc Warlord’s head. But only the Ranger gets the guaranteed mechanical benefit of stunning him.

    Anyone can attack with surprise from hiding. But only the Thief gets the mechanical guarantee of doing extra damage or not getting into melee.

    Not having a move doesn’t prevent a character from trying something that is a move for another class. But not having the move means the effect they get on a success is mostly narrative.

  11. Sorry for the double post, but being clear on the character’s intent is also important. ” I swing my sword” could trigger Hack & Slash, Defy Danger, Defend, Discern Realities, or even Parley depending on the situation and what the player is trying to achieve.

    Intending to deal damage to that troll? That’s Hack and Slash.

    Intending to knock the troll’s arm away before it hits you with its giant fist? That’s Defy Danger.

    Intending to knock the troll’s arm away before it hits someone else with that fist? That’s Defend. Or maybe even Defy Danger again.

    Using your sword to poke around a room looking for traps/hidden/invisible things? That’s Discern Realities.

    Threatening the town barkeep into giving you free ale for life? That’s Parley. And a reputation for being a violent bastard.

    Many times the player’s intent (and the move that should trigger) is clear from the situation and how they narrte their action. But don’t hesitate to ask their intentions if you’re not clear or if it seems like multiple moves could trigger.

    Plus, finding out what the player wants to happen can help you figure out how to make them pay for it on a 7-9. Or how to screw them on a 6-. 😉

  12. Ryan M. Danks Oh yeah, if you’re comparing it to FATE I could totally see that. Characters wind up succeeding in FATE pretty often, especially if they can bounce off some personal or in-game story elements to do what they’re trying to do. Dungeon World is definitely less about plot-powered success and more about taking risks and compromising.

    BUT. Don’t ignore plot-powered success. The Thief using Defy Danger to get into a blind spot or create a distraction to set up the “attack an unaware enemy” condition of Backstab is also setting herself up to succeed on a Hack and Slash as if she rolled a 10+… more or less, anyway. If your players do something that might trigger a move, but there’s no doubt the outcome will be the 10+ result, just give it to them. 

    Defy Danger is your generic Overcome/Create an Advantage move: use it early, use it often.

  13. Piggy-backing off Bush-Stone’s “it’s the intent that matters,” wanted to share something that blew my mind and made me love DW forever. Ran a game over the holiday weekend for 4 players with a mix of experience levels – 2 old hands, 1 had played a few times through the years, 1 complete n00b. The n00b was playing a ranger, and the first time I described an enemy projectile hurtling through the air towards her friends WHAT DO YOU DO? She promptly called out, “I shoot it out of the air with my bow!” I called for Defend+DEX; she rolled 11, describing how her arrow kerranged off the enemy throwing knife sending it flying harmlessly off course, and everyone at the table (self included) applauded. One of my favorite RPG moments ever.

    So yea, it’s in how they describe it.

  14. That’s awesome!

    But…doesn’t Defend still cause damage, even when it succeeds? My understanding was that you could half the damage or make yourself the target, but not negate it completely.

  15. I have to go off memory right now, but I believe succeeding at Defend says Hold X, and none of the options to spend Hold on completely negate damage. Instead, they allow you to redirect that damage or halve it.

  16. Maybe I was being nit-picky, but I got confused as you said the Defend move causes damage. The Defend move prevents damage.

    You are correct though. There is no “spend a hold to negate damage” clause. You can only spend a hold to halve the damage/effect. Note that there is nothing that says you can only spend a single hold at a time though. So a player could spend two hold to reduce the damage/effect of something to a quarter.

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