Woo, first-time DM (and first experience in general) for a DW oneshot today, it went great!

Woo, first-time DM (and first experience in general) for a DW oneshot today, it went great!

Woo, first-time DM (and first experience in general) for a DW oneshot today, it went great! Explaining the rules took little under an hour, people picked it up really naturally. I used a Pathfinder module and converted it into DW, it went really smoothly. Some observations from our group:

– Druid has a hard time gaining XP, as his Wildshape goes off his mainstat, and he can also perform regular attacks with it. Basically, only if he went into melee in normal form or failed challenges, he got XP.

– Fighter tears through enemies amazingly fast when he’s a 2 armor-piercing and +1 damaging weapon (and rolls crazy high). He two-shotted the boss of the dungeon.

– Wizard complained that his spell selection is a bit lacking. He can either get lots of weak spells, or one big one. Say, as a level 3 character, you naturally want Fireball and by default has to choose one extra level 1 spell. I’d say this is remedied at higher levels, but I agree that the first few levels, he’s pretty meh. Then again, all casters are.

– I was a good DM, which surprised some players. 😛 It helped that I played the module already and knew what was happening, but this was my second big DM-experience, so I liked it. The only complaint I got was that the enemies didn’t attack as often, so they weren’t really a threat (they only attacked on a 7-9, which didn’t always happen). I promised they’d make more auto-attacks in a next session.

– DW is perfect for a few quick sessions, but my players agreed that they wouldn’t want a big epic campaign, as it has less variety than, say, D&D or Pathfinder. Especially things like Druids, who can only shapeshange into a select amount of animals (my Druid had prepared his list of animals, which still was pretty small), or the lacking spell list of the casters.

– The players really liked the mechanics. When they saw their leading questions in effect, it gives a bigger sense of involvement. Especially when one of the characters basically wrote an entire encounter for me. 😛 Classes were well designed (the Paladin had a lot of joy playing him, while not exactly being the standard Paladin type), and Bonds were an interesting concept to encourage roleplay.

– I dislike the fact that there aren’t really any difficulty checks. In Pathfinder, you can say it’s DC30, which implies it’s pretty difficult, here I can only give circumstance penalties, which removes some of the oomph of a dice roll. “It’s going to be really difficult!” “I rolled an 8.” “Fine, you did it,” doesn’t exactly cover it.

In short, we had a blast, and everyone agreed to play another oneshot a few months from now (not too quick after this one, it’s nicer as a diversion). I’d like to thank everyone here for everything, I’ve been browsing the Tavern for the past two weeks now and I have a lot of inspiration for other stuff. You guys are awesome.

18 thoughts on “Woo, first-time DM (and first experience in general) for a DW oneshot today, it went great!”

  1. Glad you enjoyed yourselves. Quick things.

    The Druid doesn’t get to Hack & Slash with WIS. They still have to attack with STR, unless I’m missing something. So unless the player put both Wisdom and Strength quite high, they’re not using their “primary stat”.

    You don’t increase the difficulty in Dungeon World by raising the numbers. You do it by redefining what “success” means.

  2. I play a Druid myself and the idea of making a list of animals I could change into would just kill my creativity. I try to think of what ability would be useful in the situation I am in and then I try to think up a Savannah animal that could give me that ability.

  3. I found a playbook that I personally like, keep in mind that I have not actually played DW. Maybe your wizard friend would prefer it? Your spell casting is not limited to individual spells like the typical one is.


    To give a short summary:

    You pick a focus, which is basically your school of magic.

    Casting spells that are aligned with your focus (by following one or more of 3 descriptions) allows you to use your full int bonus to cast them, and roll no smaller than +1. Casting a spell that is not aligned gives you a -1 penalty to casting the spell. Casting a spell which is part of an opposed element (one of two different descriptions) is impossible.

  4. So great that you guys had a blast!

    Don’t forget the ritual move that the wizard has… My wizard player always loves to pull out a spell from unearthed arcana or the DCCRPG rulebook and say ‘_I want to make a ritual that does this!_’. Sure, I say, and just follow through with the move, its freaking awesome!

    Consider letting them take expanded spellbook more than once too.

    Also, if the player comes up with some cool ideas for making spells, then just go with it, or write a custom move, its quite fun!

    Don’t write off campaign play…. In AW the game really starts to sing around 5 sessions, and so too with DW. The beauty of this system is in leaving enough blanks to explore during play, including the characters themselves. If the base classes don’t have enough variety for you, there are plenty of compendium classes, and homebrewed classbooks floating around.

    Oh and if the players are complaining that they haven’t failed enough rolls (in order to gain an XP), the HARD moves made by the GM are definitely not hard enough! 😉

  5. Christopher Stone-Bush however when the druid is shaechanged and has a move that deals with attacking something they just do it. That is even better then Hack&Slash with WIS. That is damage/fictional attack FOR FREE! 

  6. Yeah, as I ruled it, you roll for changing into a bear. Swiping at the enemy is one hold, which has the “forceful” tag, but it obviously deals damage as well.

    Jack Kimball: I found that playbook online, it looks like one of the better ones, but I fear it’s too strong, giving too many options. Basically, you can choose from any of the examples listed and do everything except your forbidden magic. Maybe I’d houserule it as choosing three foci, else the Mage might get out of hand. Healing magic? Check. Time magic? Check. Party buffs? Check. Shapechange? Check. And on top of that, Black Magic and Counterspells make the class really seem like a very versatile class without many downsides. Really fun to play, I agree, but I’m afraid I don’t know how to control the player if he gets out of hand.

    Eric: The Druid planned in advance to know the range of creatures he could change in, as he also chose some more esoteric ones to liven up the play. Certainly, it loses some spontaneity, but the fact that he changed into some creature, told me what it did, and I got to give him moves based on that was a blast. Besides, he chose fairly stock options for most of the shapes, like a jackal, bear, and spider.

    Thanks for the comments, everyone!

  7. I had the same thoughts about the Mage but more and more i am thinking it doesn’t “brake” anything. A druid also can do tons of stuff just from one move. 

    The only thing i would change is lower the black magic damage simply to class damage. 

  8. Wait what? Choosing 3 foci? You are only suppose to choose one anyways. I could infer you mean aligned elements, but you named 4 things that could be considered aligned elements and choosing a focus already gives you 3 aligned elements. Am I missing something?

    And to Tim, lowering black magic to class damage? So basicly, if the mage decides to pick any option that reduces his damage, he doesn’t deal damage? Seems along the extreme side of things, at least early on.

  9. I meant three foci that he’s capable of using, the others are off-limits entirely.

    Also, I was thinking about lowering Black Magic to a d6 or something. As a Mage, you never want to hack and slash anyway, but being able to buff people up and deal d8 seems a bit much to me.

  10. A brief comment on the mage playbook breaking the game:  The more powerful a character is the more potential collateral damage can come from them. The only thing I can seeing making a playbook broken is the lack of consequences or failure to use GM hard moves for failure.  One can still be a fan of the characters and warn them of the severe consequences of carelessly overpowered magic. If the character plows ahead fully warned, they reap the consequences of success or failure.  And to be honest, there are so many more interesting things to do with a 6- then just load damage on a character.

  11. How would you choose which 3 focuses he would be limited to choosing? What would be the point of limiting his initial choice?

    I think I came up with a better solution tim. You could remove his first move choice at level 2 or make him choose between the 3 options, cast a spell, black magic and counterspell, instead of automatically getting cast a spell and then choosing between black magic and counterspell.

  12. Well, it would at least give some flavour to the character. Instead of merely specialising in chronomagic, he is a chronomage. It would also limit his options in magic, but not overly so, I think. This forces him to be more creative without being too restrictive, I hope. From the examples, you can easily imagine multiple spells per focus, and if it does turn out to bee too restrictive, I’ll allow one additional focus. This also gives him a sense of growth as a character.

  13. I still don’t get why would you limit the initial choice. I don’t see why any point in your post would justify limiting his options of foci. Do you think this would effect the character somehow, beyond the initial choice? Remember that he doesn’t have to cast a spell that is not aligned with any focus, let alone the one he is currently using.

  14. It’s mainly to make him feel less overpowered to everyone else. You choose one focus, you can basically cast any spell you want, except your opposed ones. With limitations, I can limit the things he can do, so that both player and GM know more what to expect. Ideally, I’d do this without it feeling too restrictive, I don’t know how I can make this more clear, but as-is, the Mage feels like a God. For instance, the Dragon Mage cannot use healing or subtlety, but still do time manipulation, illusions (as long as they’re not too subtle, so very crude ones, like Prestidigitation), manipulation of emotions, shapechanging, empowering or weakening others, and so on. By restricting someone to two or three Foci, you tend to gravitate towards a certain type of character, and limit your powers. I know from experience that when you have too much choide, you get swamped and don’t know what to do. With this, you can guide a player towards a certain playstyle and, as a GM, I know more what I can expect from a character. And if this sounds too restrictive, don’t forget that the Mage also gets Counterspell and/or Black Magic, so he’s certainly not limited to one or two tricks. Compared to the Fighter or Paladin, he still has way more tricks up his sleeve, and I’d hate for other players to feel left out, just because they can’t just invent spells to shape the universe to do their bidding.

  15. Kwinten Koeter Well the focus amounts to an initial choice, comparable to choosing a playbook or choosing a land for a druid to come from. The validity of that comparison is essentially the crux of my argument. What sort of system would you use to decide which foci to eliminate from the list? Wouldn’t the better option be to impose additional opposed elements rather than limit the list of foci options? Wouldn’t that feel more impactful during the game and limit his versatility more than limiting his initial focus options from the original list?

  16. True, the -1 is still a factor, but in my last game, rolls of 7-9 were still very common. They’d risk more moves used against them, but I don’t see it as big enough of a risk, especially since as a caster you’ll probably put a +2 in it, so you effectively still have a +1 on your roll. Guess I’ll have to play it to see how it plays out, but I still feel like it could use some tweaking.

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