Hello everyone !

Hello everyone !

Hello everyone !

So I’ve been using Dungeon world for approximately five sessions and I wanted to share a bit of my experience with you guys (along with taking criticism & co which could help me to improve). First and foremost, pardon me if they are any mistakes in this writing since English is not my native language :).

I wanted to play a fantasy RPG game with a group of player mixing players with 0 experience in tabletop RPG and players with quite some experience. Originally I picked Pathfinder to do that as it is a game I know very well and I have plenty of experience with. So my players played the first session in the Pathfinder system before I discover Dungeon World and then they changed to DW at the second session.

The player cast is :

Jean, a Bard level 2 (absent at session 5)

Bradok, a Ranger level 2

Sachael, a Thief level 2

Hazel, a Wizzard level 2

Nimue, a Druid level 3

When the session started, all the PC where finishing a battle against orc on a merchant ship that they were hired to protect. Last session has been ending on a hurry because it was so lated already, the battle wasn’t quite finished so I wanted to take the time to end it well. 

The majority of this session was orc fighting. The players were on the deck, outnumbered by orc, berserker, a chaman, and some goblins. As I’m not 100% confident with combat rules with DW I’ve decided for all of my players to roll a D6 in order to know what was the order of actions. I tried this method since when I wanted to go for the conversation flow, some players told me they didn’t feel they acted as much as they wanted to because I was sometimes focusing more on some other players action.

The D6 system didn’t work either :p. I read in this tavern that some DM did it ; but for me the player felt as if it was a round and then complained. I decided to use a map and some paper figurine to represent the PC and their opponent, and sometimes I would move the figurines of the monster a bit to show him precisely what kind of situation he was dealing with – without having some kind of respect for a precise movement stat for the orcs or anything. One of the player because of the initiative system felt that was unnatural since the orcs acted too fast and too randomly during their turn – he felt everything was being played as a turn as opposed as a conversation.

So I want to find a new system for combat, without that D6. I think I might try to reuse conversation to ensure every player is satisfied. 

The combat despite that went well, especially when a goblin took the rudder (is that the right world ? the thing that handles the ship direction) and did something totally stupid, making the ship hit an iceberg (it was the cold sea of the North).

I’m satisfied because I could handle the difficulty very well – I feel that the players felt difficulty – as they should fighting this many orcs. They had the occasion to do some heroic stuff, and I used a lot a feature I absolutely love in DW : the 7-9. I had plenty of occasion to offer the choice -> if you do that, you will expose yourself to… I think I managed to not overuse them, and it was a good feeling since it felt that combat was not at all just hack and slash | volley repeatedly.

One thing : the thief, a new player, wasn’t quite sure what to do expect trying to hide in order to sneak attack. She passed half the fight trying to run away from a berserker. Although this is totally logical and that makes sense fictionally, I would love to give her more choice for the next battle than just escape and hide or fight desperately. Any idea ?

One other thing : the druid and the ranger did well, fighting one until his death, the other until unconsciousness. They tried plenty of stuff, but in the end for them it was also a of “I try to attack him” and even when I asked them to describe to me “how” it often sounded like hack and slash – sometimes defy danger according to the situation. I think I should learn how to offer them more choices and to tell the combat in a manner that makes them think how they could handle it differently. Suggestions are welcome.

One last thing : I have a problem handling some of the Wizzard spells. Invisibility is giving me such a headache. I wanted to discuss with my player how it work fictionally for him, and I thought we agreed : Hazel can make herself or someone else invisible (but only one person at a current time). While that person is invisible, she/he stays so until she does something complex with reality. During the fight she wanted to bar the cabin door being invisible I assumed this would make her visible again but she didn’t think so. I’m not sure how to handle this spell.

The session pretty much ended when the fight was done : looting & stuff is always fun, and the players even gained a new level !

Now it is the time I speak a bit about the DW system :

I fracking love 7-9. I wish I had more ideas. My players like it too I think.

I love the some actions : perilous travel, parley, volley, spout lore, cast a spell being of my favorite

Some things are not settled in stone for me : how to handle the conversation in combat (I like giving my players equal spotlight)

I wish I could try to vary a bit my moves (for now I feel like I could handle more situations then now)

I like the druid as it is (I love shapeshifting as I was able to talk to my player about it prior the session) but I wish he could be either have more base damages or cast spells

Sometimes I wish they would be more options than giving +1 to a roll to reward my players when they have great positioning | thinking in combat. For now, I try to reward them in the fiction, but I don’t think it’s enough.

I almost never use the “ask player questions”. I tried it a bit, and my players feel stressed, so I dropped and improvised a lot on the fly.

I prepare much more my DW sessions than any other game sessions. I have no idea why. Sometimes I feel the game wasn’t designed because of that but that’s my way to go as a DM for years so whatever !

I’m cool with fronts and I use them, but for now they don’t give me as much as I hoped. Since after every session I spend some time trying to plan out the next one (inventing my world on the fly, which is quite perilous BTW) I feel like I’m not making my grim portents come into action – after all, my players needs to be able to stop them before they happen, else what’s the point ? But their in game agenda is SO busy at the moment :(.

However because of the front I’m preparing really differently from my other games. I don’t prepare any scenes – just some combat encounters – as I used to do. Instead, before each session, I ask myself the following questions : who is involved in the PC current situation ; where are the PC and what are the forces here ; how do my adventure’s front dangers react to the PC’s actions.

I would love to playtest the war supplement !!

I think that’s it. It’s you read that to the end, kudos, and sorry for the long wall of text. I’ld love to hear any feedbacks and comments, they would be greatly appreciated.

See you next time !

Alex “Honor”

TL,DR : Dungeon World is a Great Game !

9 thoughts on “Hello everyone !”

  1. If you haven’t ready the DW guide, do so. It can help you understand your options for those 7-9s. Remember, a 7-9 result is fundamentally a success, just with a cost. Use up some resources, separate the party, and use your other GM moves.

  2. You’ve covered so many things, I’m going to focus on one right now: your thief. She spent much of her time running from an Orc and had trouble knowing what to do besides hide and sneak attack.

    Firstly, I really try to view characters as if I were in their shoes (realism), then start ratcheting up the possibilities (cinematic). So, the thief hiding and making sneak attacks as opportunity strikes, to me, is realism when the party is so outnumbered. It would be overwhelming and the thief’s skills/training/experiences lead her to naturally isolate herself from the mass melee and attack when it is most advantageous for her. Awesome, then, that her player played her that way!

    However, the player didn’t step it up to the cinematic. One way to help them do this is to subtly hint at terrain they can use to their advantage. She could climb the rigging and drop down as a “death from above” attack. She might open a hatch, drop down, and reemerge unexpectedly through another one. Maybe she swings on a rope to cause a domino effect on some orcs and goblins.

    It can be very hard to think cinematically when previous experience with RPGs causes you to just look at your character sheet for things to do. Playbooks are really the opposite. You just say what you want to do, then consult the playbook if anything triggers (like sneak attack). So maybe suggest that to your players: think big, think cinematically – don’t get wrapped up in what you’re “allowed” to do based on turns or character sheet details.

  3. A whole bunch of thoughts…

    Running fights:  “The conversation” is absolutely the best way to go. Think like the editor of a movie.  Stay focused on one or two characters until their situation has changed significanly (for good or ill).  Then shift focus to see what else is happening. 

    We use minis and maps for big fights like this, but positioning on them is very fluid.  Not every group likes this, and it can definitely put folks with 3e/4e/Pathfinder experience in the wrong frame of mind.

    Use the whole environment: Don’t just think about the moves that your monsters are making.  Think about the fact that this fight is happening on a ship!  A SHIP!  Rigging, sails, waves, wind, rain(!?), sharks circling the bloody waters below, barrels and lifeboats waiting to be cut free and go careening across the deck, narrow stairways slick with blood,  open gantries, crates of booty, barrels of blackpowder or flamable pitch.  Fire!  FIRE!

    The more details you provide about the environment around the fight, the more opportunities your players have to get creative.

    Scare them:  Use the details above–and fictioal details about the monsters themselves–to scare the bejesus out of your players.  When a PC suffers an attack from an orc, don’t just deal damage.  Deal damage and escalate the situation.  Bradok gets a 7-9 to Hack n’ Slash the orc? “You take him down, but his buddy comes out of nowhere and tackles you, both of you careening against the railing.  Nimue, you see Bradok wrestling with this orc against the rails.  Even from here, you see the old wood start to give way and you just saw those shark fins circling below.  Meanwhile, you see a group of orcs climb aboard with torches.  They’re making for the sails; if they set them alight, the ship is lost!  What do you do?”

    Reward creativity: If the PCs interact with the fictional details in a clever way, reward it!  If Bradok (pinned against the rails by the orc, sharks circling below) tries to squirm out of the orc’s grip and knock him over the rails, let him roll +Dex to defy danger. On a success, send that orc over the side.  Don’t roll damage, just let it happen!

    If they aren’t rising to the occasion, give them a nudge.  Like your thief… she spent the whole fight running from the berserker?  Maybe throw in a detail or two that could be useful.  Like, does she hide behind some barrels?  Have the berserker jump up on the barrels to corner her and mention that the barrels are lashed together with ropes.  (Hint: cut the ropes!)  Or mention the network of rigging above his head (bring it down on him!).  Or play up the fact that he likes to charge at his prey, and back her up against the ship’s railing (make like a bullfighter!). 

    DW works best when the fictional situation is rich, detailed, and fluid and when you reward the players for engaging with it. 

  4. The good news is all your issues are fixable, the bad news is that most of it just takes time.  A lot of your issues with combat will solve themselves as both you and your players get more comfortable with the system.  If your having troubles starting combat, pick the PC with the highest dex and ask them what do you do, or throw an attack that would hit the whole party and see who reacts first.

    As for your thief, hiding is only one of many ways for her to get in a Backstab.  Maybe she tricks the orc into turning around with Defy Danger CHA.  Or maybe she trips him, or someone else distracts the orc while she stabs him.  Remember that Backstab triggers whenever she doesn’t need to roll Hack and Slash to deal melee damage, and that is based on the ability of the enemy to protect himself.  Can the orc retaliate/protect themselves? If no, then she can Backstab!  If yes, she should probably run away lol.

    Good luck and I hope DW stays enjoyable with you and your group!

  5. The guide found on the DW homepage is a must. There were really a lot of things I didn’t get until I read it.

    Also, to me, it sounds a bit like one your issues is a question of paradigm. If many of your players are familiar with games in the Pathfinder vein, then I can see how that might clash with how DW is played. I recently ran a game with a group who had never played before, and there were no problems with regards to combat as a conversation. I hope you try some more and get some more rewarding results.

  6. Paul Arezina that’s the system Marvel Heroic Roleplaying uses and it can be a good start if you’re used to a more structured “initiative” order.

    Alexandre Fruchaud what you might try is thinking of the game as a tennis match or game of catch – the current spotlight is a ball that passes from player to player by way of the narrative. A player attacks some orcs, they hit, do some damage, an orc stumbles back into line of fire of the ranger, who shoots her bow but misses, exposing her to a barrage of goblin bombs, which detonate and shake loose the cover the Thief was sneaking behind, forcing them to defy danger to remain hidden etc etc.

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