Okay. My first session of DW happened this Friday. Myself as the GM. It was hard. Very hard.

Okay. My first session of DW happened this Friday. Myself as the GM. It was hard. Very hard.

Okay. My first session of DW happened this Friday. Myself as the GM. It was hard. Very hard.

I can say a lot of it was down to my poor preperation. I was confused as to what moves actually were and there were cases where a player wanted to grapple an NPC but I had no idea which move to use. I also had problems keeping everything in my head at the same time. Thinking too much about stats, not enough about the GM principles and moves.

I had a slight problem because I had to GM a group of 5 people. Which I realise now is one too many. As well as that most of my players refused to read, listen and kept on talking. Incessantly.

One of the players was playing a fanatical paladin. This player dominated the group. Whenever anything was going on, he did it. I put a small and incredibly simple puzzle down for the thief at the table, who was the quietest of the group, just to draw attention away from him, but it took at least ten minutes after the paladin had asked me (several times) if there were any guards around (the thief’s task was to unlock a city gate) before the thief piped up and said he had something which could unlock the gate.

Basically what happened was that the idea I had for the adventure was totally hijacked by a domineering (both in and out of game) paladin who lead the group on a journey to deliver divine judgement on some poor, unwitting, desperate soul.

I wanted to ask:

How do you GM a good adventure with a person like that at the table?


Should I care about the stats? Or more about the narrative?

P.S. The paladins roleplaying was excellent, though.

9 thoughts on “Okay. My first session of DW happened this Friday. Myself as the GM. It was hard. Very hard.”

  1. I don’t know about you, but I’m waiting for someone in this community to post some “Best of” videos that show DW in action. It might even be tagged #BestDWMoves so we could always find them. The game takes so much of our old RPG conceptions and tums them upside down that a video would be worth a million words… I don’t want to sit through a whole session, but I want the illustrative moments…. Anyone else feel this way? 

  2. “Okay, you’ll do that, but I need to switch focus to the next player now.”

    The hardest thing for the. GM in DW is maintaining a balanced focus for all players, in my opinion. Flat-out saying “that can be your next scene” helps move away from scene hogs and give focus to other players.

  3. As GM you also get to be the voice of the paladin’s deity and the deity could easily command that ______ be accomplished first.  Shared narrative does not mean the most vocal person at the table determines the story or plot. When I think of shared narrative or collaborative fiction I think of providing the chapter headings, key players and potential events.   How those unfold happens as I interact with the players.  Stephanie Bryant I think another way of dealing with domineering characters is the give them more attention then they want, like focused attacks by the enemy, by NPCs holding that individual responsible for the actions of the party or some other unwelcome truth. 

  4. About the paladin. 

    I like players like that at the table that tell me before the game started, what it will be about. Like when she introduces herself 

    “I am Valeria the Paladin of the holy church of the sea. I made it my quest to rid the world of the icedragon-necromancer Adeharrn!” 

    And bam! instant hook. Then i go around the table and ask the other players what their relationship to that dragon is. Why they need it dead. Then we have buy in from everyone on a table about a topic that didn’t come from me. I still have enough tools to get the things i want to have in the game anyway so i am not bothered about my fun. 

    As a GM in the beginning i thought to much about the stats and the things the players could do right now. I stopped doing that to focus more on my moves and things like that. 

    If a player is to dominating at the table, especially when overbearing other players i remind them politetily that we are having a conversation and that i want imput from other people. MY style however is also highly moderated where i give “the floor” to specific people one at the time. When people chime in with matching things here and there that is okay but if they are doing it constantly i just deny them their chance to speak. 

  5. I don’t think it was down to your poor prep Jasper, just prepping things that aren’t as useful for you. Like you say, think ‘situation that if left unchecked will result in this very bad situation.’ Instead of trying have the idea of the ‘adventure’ before hand. That way, no-one knows what is going to happen, just that you have a location, characters and a very dramatic situation.

    Did you make characters as a group? What bonds and cool snippets of the world came out of this process? They are the little seeds that players invest in. As Tim Franzke  points out, ask lots of provocative questions about that stuff, make point notes as you go about this cool shared authorship and re-incorporate, re-incorporate, re-corporate.

    As for the paladin, make sure that you address all the players by their character’s names, and after he has had his ‘turn’ pointedly address someone else (like the thief), give them a situation and ask them ‘What do they do?’. This is the denial that Tim talks about; as GM you have pacing and spotlight control, it isn’t enforced by initiative or anything like that.

     In fact, it can be quite useful to leave a character on a ‘cliffhanger’ (as in after a failed move) and turn your attention elsewhere, this can cause some scrabbling through notes and possible move trigger choices for that character in danger – buys you some time to address another PC.

    Oh and fiction first, always.

  6. For the record, my first time running an AW-based game went horribly. It was so bad, that of the three players I had one now refuses to touch anything that is AW-based. Unfortunately (as with anything new) you are going to fail a lot before you succeed.

    In your case Jasper Griffiana, it sounds like part of the issue was a spotlight hog. As other people have said, take this player aside and have an adult conversation with them.

  7. I would love to see something like that Christopher Meid. I agree with other folks. It sounds like this was an issue with the player, as well as the other players for not piping up and getting involved. Either type of player can be a headache for a GM and you were dealing with both at the same time. I think the more you run DW the easier it will get and the clearer solutions to situations like this will become. If at first you do not succeed, try try again ^_-

  8. Did you have a story planned? Often when a storyline is improvised, domineering players can’t help but lead them according to their character roleplay.

    In cases like this, some storytelling can be used to shift the story. Shape the story around the characters. If a fighter, for instance, wants to go and merely fight goblins while you want him to go to a temple (without explicitly telling him to go) then just make the goblin attacks happen near a temple.

    As the GM, you have the power to shape the world that your players want to see. When you spot these desires, shape them so your players can feel more enthusiastic and contribute.

    Without constant dynamic story-telling, a domineering player will often take the stage – often by accident.

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