I’m still new to the DW ideology of running games.

I’m still new to the DW ideology of running games.

I’m still new to the DW ideology of running games. There are things like “leave blanks” and “ask the players” abound but I am curious how you other DM’s handle dungeon prep.

Do you map out an entire dungeon before hand? Does it contain swaths of undefined territory? Do you go in just having a rough idea of how big the place is, but the let the details unfold as the players progress? Do you make up the details of a room on the fly or do you have a table you’ve created that you roll on to fill the room with random elements?

I’m very curious to hear how others are handling this part of the game.

14 thoughts on “I’m still new to the DW ideology of running games.”

  1. Prepare a very good story hook – something that starts the adventure. Have a good idea of the theme and fronts. A generic map without detail helps. Then make it up as you go along.

  2. Start with “The blood of your fellow adventurers paints the cave walls and floor. The dragon lets out an ear shattering roar as you few survivors share a look. What do you do?” Go from there.

  3. Glad you asked! I frequently use stuff like pre-drawn maps by Tony Dowler and Dyson Logos (et al.) or One Page Dungeon contests for prep.

    I like to jot down a vague idea of what’s on a given room, leave some of them blank, and feel free to think nothing of adding more stuff, like secret doors or rooms, monsters etc.

  4. For my game, I started off media res with two rooms sketched out — an ante chamber and the base of a tower. As they scaled the tower, I winged it and added more levels. As they rolled and asked questions, details were added. But it was all off the cuff, whatever made sense at the time from details as conversation.

    Now, they’re out of the dungeon, but they’re probably gonna dungeon delve again real soon (the paladin was robbed — turns out it probably has to do with some bandits in town who are hiding in a cave system). When that happens, I’ll probably sketch out two or three Big Deal Things (like, the Treasure Room, and their Planning Room, and the Roots of the Dryad’s Tree). I have no idea where they’ll be though! In fact, I’ll probably write down Moves for each room itself. And I’ll probably write down ten evocative words (like dark, moist, centipedes, moss, roots, descent, handholds, gambling, echoes, ghost ).

    Then, when its my turn to talk, maybe I’ll drop one of those rooms in. And maybe I’ll add one of those details to it — or use one of those details as a hard move, or ask what the PCs see that involves that evocative word. Or really anything! The idea is, I’ll make brief non-committal notes that give the group something to talk about.

    I probably won’t use them all. I’ll probably modify them in play. Maybe someone’s moves will render them moot! Someone’s questions will probably expand them. As long as you have a couple prep details in mind (so you don’t freeze up and panic) and as long as you’re willing to be flexible (by asking for and rolling with new info your players give you), you’ll be fine with completely winging a dungeon-dive.

  5. I found the Planarch Codex approach really helpful. Pick a few dangers present in the “dungeon”, draw the dungeon as you play, distribute dangers by rolling.

    It’s very improvisational, but it has enough structure to work really well and it taps the DMs creativity, which is great.

  6. For the prep of my game I started the players at the local pub. I showed them the map of the town (which was not labeled, just buildings and streets) and told them which one was the pub. As we played, they would ask me where different merchants, town hall, barracks, and church are. Only then I would point the places out. The trick was I didn’t know where any of these places were.

    The blanks allowed me to put in the places that were important to the story and my players/PCs, and not be cluttered by wasted buildings and information.

  7. I’ve based many of my games on existing adventure modules. I especially like the Dungeon Crawl Classics ones. Those are great. I use the entire map (or change parts of it or eliminate parts), I just take everything out of the rooms, leaving blanks. If there is a cool encounter or event that takes place in a specific room (and only makes sense for that room) I leave it in place. Otherwise stuff can shift around, change, disappear, whatever based on what I think will be cool and what happens in the game.

    I should say that I don’t try to play out the module as written. I just steal the basic idea, cool monsters, major NPCs, and then filter them through the Dungeon World lense. The module just provides me with a basic starting idea, a hook to get the players interested, maybe a Front idea or two. But after play starts, things go wherever they go.

  8. Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures are consistently some of the best being published right now, especially the ones by Harley Stroh. I like Christopher Stone-Bush’s recommendation. Just read one through to get the basic idea and start the party in the middle of something. The great ideas from the module combined with your own ideas and then sprinkled inspiration from the players… you’ll be armed to the teeth. The map artwork alone will inspire you – you may not even need to refer back to the module at all.

  9. If it’s the first session I prep nothing. I sit down, offer up play books, talk new players through the basics and character creation, and then start asking questions.

    If it’s an ongoing game I’ll give a quick recap, skip the plot along to an interesting in media res start and get stuck in. I only keep brief notes during play and we keep our game fast and loose, and the status quo has usually shifted in the fiction between sessions, even if they’re still stuck in a dungeon.

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