I’ve been GMing Dungeon World for a bit now, and I’m still learning, so I have a question for you guys.

I’ve been GMing Dungeon World for a bit now, and I’m still learning, so I have a question for you guys.

I’ve been GMing Dungeon World for a bit now, and I’m still learning, so I have a question for you guys.

Our group (myself included) have been having trouble with playing to find out what happens. I thought of a way to generate more player input. That is, have a single world, and then rotate GMs after each Adventure/Campaign. I’m wondering if this could work, and I’m also asking for tips to engage the players and make it so that the GM doesn’t have an absolute say in things.

17 thoughts on “I’ve been GMing Dungeon World for a bit now, and I’m still learning, so I have a question for you guys.”

  1. I’ve used rotating GMs to encourage player participation in world-building before and it’s worked for my group.

    As for engaging the players, remember to:

    1) ask questions. Pair declarative statements (“the orc charges at you, screaming at the top of his lungs”) with a question (“what is he screaming?”) and treat those answers as truths. If the player answered something silly or funny, take it as true and figure out how that changes the world.

    2) turn their questions back on them. If a player goes “what is he wearing?” just answer “I don’t know, what is he wearing? You tell me.” Don’t over-do this, but use it often for stuff that doesn’t hugely matter so that the table can create details.

  2. Though I haven’t done it, I can see rotating GMs work well with DW. But I don’t think it would inherently push your group to “play to find out.”

    What does “play to find out” mean to you? And how are you & your group struggling with it?  

  3. You could generate a little more player input with descriptions that are a little more focused or get some art (and/or music) as inspirational to show them a little of the general area.

  4. Tip to engage the players and make it so that the GM doesn’t have an absolute say in things.  Ask the players questions and use the answers.  Trouble with playing to find out what happens can be resolved in a similar fashion.

  5. I don’t know if rotating GMs is the answer to solving ‘play to find out what happens’, if only because some GMs might get the idea and others might not. (I’m not saying it’s a bad idea in itself, though. I’ve never tried it, but it sounds fun!)

    “Play to find out what happens” isn’t exactly the same as “the GM doesn’t have an absolute say in things”. The GM does have final say, because it’s their responsibility to keep the game going and the players will look to them to do that. What it means is, very often (as often as the GM feels comfortable, I’d say) the GM will turn to the group and ask them for input on a situation, then describe the outcome of their input.

    Alex Norris ‘s charging orc above is a great example, IMO. If the player says the Orc is screaming “F**k you!” then everyone at the table can have a laugh and move on. Or, if the player says “In the name of those orcs whose lives your kind have stolen!” that’s a great opportunity for the GM to ask more questions, then feed the answers into the game.

  6. Thanks for all the answers!

    Jeremy Strandberg For me it was players have a say, but all these answers made it more clear for me.

    Joe Banner, that’s the other thing I wanted to mention! Some of the group members are aprehensive towards the idea of improvisation. I kinda want them to nudge them out of the box a bit more.

  7. As a GM, I feel that I’m very comfortable in the ‘play to find out’ arena. Almost too comfortable. I walk into games with nothing planned at all and expect it to be engaging fun and creative. Sometimes it is, other times it lacks backbone.

    You have to lead the way on this. If you know everything that your bad guy is going to do and worse everything that your players “should” do, then you can’t play to find out, you already know everything.

    Here’s what I’ve been doing:

    1. Ask yourself a yes/no question like “did they find the Troll under the bridge?”

    2. Answer the question both ways and then ask a follow up question for each. Like this: “Yes. Did they talk with him?” “No. Did they stop him from taking another child?”

    3. Do that one more time for each of your answers.

    For every question you ask and answer there are ten more that you left open. In the end you have a skeleton for a fun story with some backbone but you have no idea what is going to happen. The players get to choose where they go and what they do. You still get to play to find out but you also have some content to throw at em when things get hairy.

    You’ll have to learn to let go of “your story” and allow the players to take control.

    Example: I asked a player what he was going to do about the goblin menace. He said “nothing”. Before this moment, I thought the adventure was going to be a goblin smashing good time delving through caves and dealing with poorly made traps. But my player was telling me something, so I had to play to find out what he was telling me. Turns out, he wanted to fight a “worthy” opponent and didn’t deem goblins worthy. Instead he sought out the nearest Dwarven stronghold and challenged their champion. It was a big event. The goblins even made an appearance 😉

    Long post, hope it was worth the read. Have fun!

  8. Cool.  Mostly, then:  what David Guyll  and Joe Banner said.  Playing to find out isn’t just asking questions and building on those answers.  It’s leaving blanks, not being precious with your prep, and seriously, honestly not deciding how things “should” turn out before you sit down and play.

    Giving the players opprotunities to contribute to the world is one way to force yourself to “play to find out,” but it’s not the only way.  It also happens to be a play style that some players are deeply, deeply uncomfortable with.  Even for those who enjoy it, it can be exhausting… on any given night they just might not have the energy for it.

    You can totally, 100%, prep a full, complex situation and still play to find out.  The trick is to set up an unstable situation, with conflicts of interest and compelling NPC motives and unignorable dangers, and see how the PCs do with to the situation

    Then have the NPCs & monsters respond according to their instincts and their best interests.

  9. Gaming without any prep is rough, mentioned on another DW post but see what ideas you can steal from.the Role Playing Public Radio actual plays of DW where there’s some prep, some loose work from the GM then let the players fill in details when necessary. Give the players some adventure with a few choices, see what interests them then go from.there. Good luck.

  10. I actually have a now half prep and half random stuff which I think works perfectly. I don’t have a this is what the monsters are going to do and this is the story that we are going to tell I just have a back story this is why the monsters are doing this at this time and the adventurers get thrown into it.

    Every time I start a campaign I ask my players a question about what kind of rumours that they go on and then I ask questions about those rumours and that gives me a lot of ideas for the campaign going on, make some fronts and moves for the monsters and there thats the start of playing to find out what happens. Some players like absolute freedom, some players like it when the GM has prepped everything. I think we have it a bit more 70% GM and 30% players without railroading though. 

  11. Our version of “play to find out” basically involves me (the GM) preping situations and circumstances along with NPC’s and organizations with goals and agendas. Then allowing things to evolve organically as the PC’s interact with these elements in whatever manner they decide to. 

    At first my players weren’t keen on answering questions or making up elements of the world. But I have found a way that they seem to enjoy; I ask the characters, not the players the questions. “What have you (the ranger) heard about Lord Baraxis?” This seems to get them involved and the information may or may not be completely accurate. The players enjoy the opportunity to roleplay what their characters have heard or retale local rumors and legends but without feeling like I’m putting them (the players) on the spot to come up with some new bit of “canon” material for the campaign. 

    Simply changing the way I word and focus the questions has really brought out their participation in the creation process; without them realizing it! 

  12. Maria Rivera if apprehensive to improv, have you tried giving them a few things to pick from (likely choices) along with ‘or add your own idea’ at the end?

Comments are closed.