Ran my first game of DW last night!

Ran my first game of DW last night!

Ran my first game of DW last night! First time GM with three first time roleplayers, so it was a big challenge. Some stuff went great, other stuff…well I’m here for advice. Character creation went really well, everyone had fun choosing traits and really got into their characters. Introductions were a lot of fun.

The problems arose with the actual adventure. I tried to prompt the PCs with questions, started off with an action-packed into which had them slamming the door behind them from a some force (which they decided were the trees of the forest, come to life to attack them!) bashing down the door behind them. We did a mini dungeon crawl (just a couple rooms, some skeletons, a little puzzle) which went surprisingly well, but they wanted to escape the dungeon so I got them out into a village and all of a sudden they lost steam.

I guess they wanted some direction, some quest, but I hadn’t planned one out because I was hoping they would fill it in themselves. In this case maybe a 5-room-dungeon setup might be helpful? We had a minor run in with a couple town guards after which everyone was feeling kind of done. I kept trying to introduce concepts that they might want to explore further but I think unless I gave them a set goal they weren’t sure what they were “supposed” to be doing. Any ideas? 

The group was a fighter, a ranger with a bear, and a druid. The fighter kept doing a defy danger, hack and slash and because of her high strength and dex stats was basically just cruising without having to think too much and got bored. The ranger was pretty good but wasn’t really sure how to use her companion. The druid took a while to realize that she could be constantly shapeshifting – is that how that class is meant to be played? 

Lots of questions, not sure if I’ll get this group back to the table, but I’m certainly interested. I’d love to hear feedback from people with more experience. 

9 thoughts on “Ran my first game of DW last night!”

  1. If you’ve got shiftless PCs, make sure they have some coin, then encourage them to spend that coin and go carousing. That’s basically your “get the next adventure seed” move. I use postworldgames jim pinto ‘s Toolcards to get an interesting name and details, but you could also look up J. Walton ‘s Dark Heart of the Dreamer, which has a mission generator that’s flavored for the setting, slightly, but doesn’t really have to be.

    How’s your fighter’s Con score? Give them something they want to protect, then make them protect it. Or warp their mind and make them Defy Danger with non-physical stats. 

    The ranger’s companion is pretty simple. It’s got trainings that define what it can do – for combat this is most often fight humanoids (which it gets for free), fight monsters, hunt, and guard. When working with the animal companion to do what it’s trained to do, get +its armor and do damage +its ferocity. If it’s trained to search , scout, or travel, you get +its cunning to Discern Realities or track if you can make them fall into its baliwick. If it’s trained to do something that might work as leverage, like perform or labor you get +its cunning to Parley. Not that this is all those trainings are good for!

    The druid can certainly be constantly shapeshifting (and observing new and interesting things to shapeshift into) but is also capable at all the basic moves their stats would suggest, and even when they’re an animal they can still engage the basic moves if they have grounds to; they don’t have to rely just on the hold to do things.

  2. When your players are ‘just cruising’ on their high stats, you can either let them do it for a while – let the fighter enjoy crushing his enemies before him, that’s why the player picked fighter, right? – or offer a challenge that can’t be easily solved by what they’re best at. “Fighter, those bowmen are shooting you from beyond the fire. If you want to get to within bashing range, you’ll have to grit your teeth and charge through the flames first.” (This is also an example of tell them the consequences and ask, one of your moves.)

    Also, remember the rulebook says you can make a move, as hard as you like, when the players roll a failure or look to you to see what happens next. If they’re getting bored, throw more trouble at them, as hard and deadly as you like! (“OK, so you settle down at the inn and go to sleep. You wake to the surprised yelps of the townsfolk – the houses are covered in vines and leaves! Looks like the forest isn’t finished with you yet. You spy the innkeeper’s daughter being carried away by branches – fighter, you’re the closest. What do you do?”)

  3. Hey, that start rocks! You’ve got good players there. I would only give two counsels (since you ask):

    when you’re stuck, roll+INT… er, I mean… ask questions and build on the answer. Why were the trees attacking them? etc. until they have a goal and know what to do.

    be fan of the characters means has much play on their weaknesses to send them into danger than give them what they want to take it away so that they ca run after.

    After what I read you and your players have potential. Next game will be better.

  4. It just sounds like you’re learning on the fly with improvisation. With DW you can count on your players taking you in directions you haven’t prepared for, and that’s very much the point. If you freeze too much and ask them too often to answer their own questions, they may lose interest, true enough.

    In the case of your group, I think practice will make perfect. You’ll get better at improv and so will they. I hope you get them back to the table. Be honest with them. I had similar issues and I asked my players to hang with it for several sessions before passing judgment. First session one player wasn’t that interested. Second session I’d learned how to get him more involved. By the third and fourth sessions, nobody cared to go back to D&D.

  5. “The fighter kept doing a defy danger, hack and slash and because of her high strength and dex stats was basically just cruising without having to think too much and got bored.”

    Were you asking the player how she did these moves, Ben Duchac? Were you getting her to narrate her character’s actions? The game can get pretty boring if people just say “I Hack & Slash.” or “I attack.” Plus, based on what the player narrates, moves like Hack & Slash and Defy Danger might not trigger.

    The way I run the game, the player doesn’t get total say on what move triggers. They narrate their character’s actions and I, the GM, tell them what move triggers. The player can revise or change their narration if the triggered move is not what they intended to happen, but they don’t get to simply declare that they are triggering a move.

    “The druid took a while to realize that she could be constantly shapeshifting – is that how that class is meant to be played? “

    Yup. That is exactly how the Druid is meant to be played. They can shapeshift anytime they want, as many times as they want. That’s because every time they trigger the move, they have to roll the dice and risk getting a 6-.

  6. I agree with Chris McGee, it sounds like you guys were learning on the fly to improvise your adventures! and the learning curve can be steep sometimes.

    My favourite GM Moves involve destabilising the environment or putting more than the players at risk. Threaten someone or something they may want to protect, set something on fire, blow something up, smash something! Make your environments a deadly and volatile part of your world and your players will stay on their toes. I’m also the kind of jerk that thinks up puzzles or problems without even considering solutions. Let the players surprise you with their creative problem solving!

    When you ask them questions, openly imply complications, conflict, connections, and danger.

    Fighter, what has been destroyed in this village since you were here last?

    Thief, why is there a warrant for your arrest in the main hall?

    Druid, what crime against nature has put your teeth on edge in the village?

    Fighter, whose heart did you break when you last left this town? Why is their scorn so dangerous to you now?

    If you don’t have any ideas for something exciting, be honest with your players, and ask what they’re interested in. Especially if you’re all new to dungeon world or the hobby in general!

  7. At the point when they left the dungeon and seemed to lose steam, they looked to you to push the story forward. Make the lives of the adventurers interesting, introduce the next thing. It doesn’t have to be “SUDDENLY OGRES!” it could be a mysterious messenger arriving. You could continue the prompts from there as well.

    “The sound of hooves announces the arrival of a travel-worn messenger. You point to one of the players recognize the heraldry of his clothing. Who does the messenger come from?”

    Then you can run from there. Maybe its a message from the Duke of Wherever, and he wants a meeting. Then you go from there to more prompts to set the scene a bit more:

    “You had a previous run in with the Duke, and he was generally not happy with you. What happened and why do you think he may still be angry with you?”

    Sometimes you might need to take a break if you feel the game is losing steam. 

    Good luck and good gaming!

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